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´╗┐Title: The Go Ahead Boys and Simon's Mine
Author: Kay, Ross
Language: English
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THE GO AHEAD BOYS
AND
SIMON'S MINE

BY
ROSS KAY

    Author of "Dodging the North Sea Mines," "With Joffre
     on the Battle Line," "The Search for the Spy," "The
        Go Ahead Boys on Smugglers' Island," "The Go
          Ahead Boys and the Treasure Cave," "The
                 Go Ahead Boys and the Racing
                    Motor Boat," etc., etc.


_ILLUSTRATED BY R. EMMETT OWEN_



    _I leave this rule for others when I'm dead:
    Be always sure you're right--THEN GO AHEAD

                            Davy Crockett's Motto_



NEW YORK BARSE & HOPKINS PUBLISHERS

=BOOKS FOR YOUNG MEN=

       *       *       *       *       *

=THE GO AHEAD BOYS By Ross Kay=

_12mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Price per volume, 75 cents, postpaid_.

    1 THE GO AHEAD BOYS ON SMUGGLERS' ISLAND
    2 THE GO AHEAD BOYS AND THE TREASURE CAVE
    3 THE GO AHEAD BOYS AND THE MYSTERIOUS OLD HOUSE
    4 THE GO AHEAD BOYS IN THE ISLAND CAMP
    5 THE GO AHEAD BOYS AND THE RACING MOTOR BOAT
    6 THE GO AHEAD BOYS AND SIMON'S MINE

(_Other volumes in preparation_)


BARSE & HOPKINS

PUBLISHERS NEW YORK



1917

       *       *       *       *       *

_The Go Ahead Boys and Simon's Mine_


[Illustration: In spite of their recent exertions and the loads they were
carrying they all began to run. page 203]



PREFACE


In this book the writer has endeavored to relate a story of stirring
adventure and at the same time eliminate all sensationalism and improbable
elements. The thread of the story was given him by a man who was familiar
with the life and experiences of prospectors. Indeed, there is warrant for
almost every event recorded in these pages.

The author has no desire to make his young heroes either preternaturally
brilliant or possessed of too precocious brains. They are normal, healthy
American boys fond of travel and adventure and naturally are meeting
experiences such as come to men doing what they were doing in certain
parts of our country. Self-reliance, determination, the ability to decide
quickly and to act promptly, the strength of will which prevents one from
abandoning too easily a course of action which has been decided upon,--all
these are foundations upon which any successful life must rest. If these
qualities can be acquired in the early years then life is just that much
stronger and better.

The Go Ahead Boys, in spite of their many experiences are typical boys of
America, and as such wish to express to the many friends they have made
their hearty appreciation of the interest which has been expressed in
their wanderings and adventures.

    Ross Kay.



TABLE OF CONTENTS


CHAPTER                                        PAGE

    I  A GHASTLY DISCOVERY                        11

   II  A CLUE                                     21

  III  TWO UNBIDDEN GUESTS                        30

   IV  TWO THIEVES IN THE NIGHT                   40

    V  A START AND A LOSS                         48

   VI  DIVIDED                                    57

  VII  TWO NAVAJOS                                65

 VIII  WAITING                                    75

   IX  DOWN THE RUSHING RIVER                     84

    X  A RATTLER                                  92

   XI  A PERILOUS FALL                           101

  XII  A WRECK                                   109

 XIII  ALONE IN THE CANYON                       118

  XIV  CLIMBING                                  126

   XV  THE SEARCH                                134

  XVI  A STARTLING ARRIVAL                       143

 XVII  A DEPARTURE BY NIGHT                      151

XVIII  RESTORING THE MAP                         160

  XIX  A JOYOUS RETURN                           169

   XX  TWO CROW TREE                             178

  XXI  THE RETURN OF THE STRANGERS               187

 XXII  SPLIT ROCK                                196

XXIII  ON THE RIM                                205

 XXIV  A SMALL CLOUD                             214

  XXV  CIRCLES                                   224

 XXVI  CONCLUSION                                234



THE GO AHEAD BOYS AND SIMON'S MINE



CHAPTER I

A GHASTLY DISCOVERY


"Look at that!"

Instantly Fred Button and his companion halted and the two boys stared at
the sight to which their attention had been directed.

Even their guide, who at that time was several yards behind, hastened to
join them and was almost as shocked by the sight as was his young
companions.

"What is it? What is it?" whispered John.

"Can't you see?" retorted Fred. "It's a skeleton of a man. The skull is
over there," he explained as he pointed to his right. "The other bones
have been scattered. Probably some wolves or buzzards have been at work
here."

For a brief time no one spoke. The bones before them were unquestionably
those of a man. They had been bleached by the sun and their very whiteness
increased the ghastly impression.

"What do you think has happened?" inquired John in a low voice.

Fred shook his head and turned questioningly to the guide.

Zeke, the name by which the guide was commonly called, also shook his head
as if the mystery was not yet solved. Without speaking he approached the
place where the skeleton had been discovered, and a moment later with his
foot unearthed a sleeve of a coat which had been buried from sight by
drifting sands of the desert.

Stooping, Zeke pulled hard and soon drew forth the coat. The garment
itself was somewhat torn, but still was in a fair state of preservation.

Turning to his companions Zeke said abruptly, "Better look around, boys,
and see if you can find something else. My impression is that you'll find
a set of prospector's tools not far away."

In response to the suggestion the two boys at once busily began their
search. A shoe, worn and plainly torn by strong and savage teeth, was
brought to Zeke. Later a pick ax, spade and hammer also were discovered
and added to the pile.

Meanwhile Zeke had been searching the garment which he had discovered and
in one pocket he had found a small book which evidently interested him
greatly.

Thrusting his discovery into his pocket, Zeke turned to the boys and said.
"What do you think? Shall we bury these bones or shall we try to take them
back?"

"Back where?" inquired Fred. "To our camp or back to civilization?"

"I shouldn't do either," suggested John. "We can bury the bones here and
mark the spot so that if we ever find out who the man was we can tell his
friends where they will find what is left of him. What do you think?" he
added, turning to the guide as he spoke.

"I think that's the best thing to do," replied Zeke quietly. "Personally I
haven't any strong feeling about what happens to my carcass after I have
left it."

"Have you any idea who or what this man was?" Fred asked.

"I found this in his pocket," responded Zeke, displaying the little book
he had taken from the coat.

"What is it? What is it?" inquired Fred eagerly.

"It looks to me like it was a diary. Some of it is missing and some is
faded, but it looks to me on the whole as if the man was keeping an
account every day of what he was doing and where he went."

"Can't you find his name in there somewhere?" inquired John.

"I haven't yet. I have a suspicion that these bones belong to old Simon
Moultrie. He was an odd stick and I guess was more than half crazy. He was
prospecting most of his life, leastwise as soon as he came out to these
regions. The funny part of it all was that he wouldn't go with anybody and
wouldn't let anybody go with him. Once or twice he thought he had struck
it rich, but I never heard that anything panned out."

"What makes you think the dead man was Simon Moultrie?"

"Mostly because he hasn't been heard from of late. It must be seven or
eight months since he has shown up. You see he used to come in twice a
year for supplies and then he would start out prospecting and not show up
again for six months, or until his supplies ran low."

"How old a man was he?" inquired John.

"Sixty-three or sixty-six, I should reckon," replied Zeke glibly. "He was
a bit off, same as I was telling you, and had just gone dippy on the
subject of finding a mine."

"And you say he did find one or two?"

"He thought he did find one or two, but when he came to follow them up,
why the stuff didn't assay worth a cent, or else it was just a little
pocket he had happened to find. What do you think ought to be done with
these bones?" again inquired the guide.

"The best thing to do is to bury them and mark the spot just as John
said," said Fred.

The suggestion was speedily acted upon and taking the spade which had been
found Zeke soon digged a grave in the soft soil. Then carefully and
silently the bones of the unfortunate man were collected and covered. A
bleached limb of a mesquite tree which had doubtless been torn away and
been carried far from its location by one of the terrific wind storms that
occasionally sweep over the region, was thrust into the ground at the head
of the little grave. Next a piece of paper was taken from his pocket by
John. Upon it he wrote, "The grave of an unknown man, supposedly Simon
Moultrie. The bones were found July 13, 1914, by Fred Button, John Clemens
and Zeke Rattray."

"Don't you think," inquired John, "that I had better put our addresses on
this paper too?"

"Good scheme," replied Fred.

Accordingly the permanent address of each member of the party was added to
the brief statement.

"Do you suppose we'll ever hear from anybody?" inquired John in a low
voice.

"I don't know," answered Fred, shaking his head as he spoke. "It's one of
those things you never can tell about."

Fred Button was one of the four boys who among their friends and
themselves, for the matter of that, were commonly known as the Go Ahead
Boys. They were schoolmates and classmates and were nearly of the same
age, John being the only one who was eighteen, while his three companions
were each seventeen years old.

In various parts of their country they had been spending their recent
vacations together. The list of books given at the beginning of this story
will indicate the various parts of the country in which they had met their
adventures.

At the present time, however, when this story opens, they were nearly two
thousand miles from home.

Across the continent they had journeyed together and together also they
had spent ten days viewing the wonders of the Grand Canyon of the
Colorado. The apparently perilous ride on the backs of donkeys down Bright
Angel Trail had been greatly enjoyed, as well as certain other inspiring
expeditions which the boys had made, sometimes in company with others and
sometimes with a single guide for the quartet.

So enthusiastic had the young travelers become over their experiences that
at last they had obtained the consent of their parents to make an
expedition of their own. Two guides were secured who were familiar with
the entire region and two strong skiffs were purchased. In these boats the
boys had planned to follow a part of the dangerous Colorado River. They
had no desire to incur the perils that belonged to many of its swirling
rapids and tossing waters. In other places, however, the river was
comparatively safe and there the boys planned to follow the course of the
stream with their strong and heavy little boats.

Inasmuch as Fred's father was a prominent railway official he had obtained
for the boys certain privileges which otherwise they might not have had.
Fred himself was the most enthusiastic member of the party. Shorter than
any of his comrades his weight was still nearly as great as any of the
four. His solid, sturdy little frame was capable of great endurance and
there were few experiences he enjoyed more than tiring his long, lanky
comrade John, who as one of his friends brutally expressed it was as much
too tall as Fred was too short.

Out of consideration for Fred's physique, among his friends he was known
as Pigmy and Pee Wee, the former title sometimes being shortened into Pyg.

John, however, rejoiced in his name, or if he did not rejoice, at least
was accustomed to respond to the appellation, String.

The remaining members of the little band were George Washington Sanders,
one of the most popular boys in the school in which all four were
students. Frequently he was referred to as Pop, a distinction by which his
friends indirectly expressed their admiration for one who was laughingly
referred to as the "Papa of his Land," just as the great man for whom he
was named was the "Father of his Country."

Grant was the member of the Go Ahead Boys who easily led in whatever he
attempted. In the hundred yards dash he had established the record of the
school. His standing in scholarship was high, while his fund of general
information was so extensive that he had received the appellation,
Socrates. This nickname, however, recently had been shortened by the
time-saving lads and Grant was more frequently called Soc than by the name
which his parents had given him. His ability as an athlete was scarcely
less than his success in the classroom. And yet Grant by no means was one
who withdrew from out-of-door life, or enjoyed less than his friends the
stirring adventures in which they all had shared.

Zeke Rattray, the guide, was a tall, bronzed, powerful young fellow about
twenty-five years of age. For several years he had dwelt in the region,
serving as guide for various exploring parties or prospectors. The Go
Ahead Boys had smiled incredulously when Zeke had informed them that when
he came originally to the state because he was expected to die "back
east," (in Iowa) of tuberculosis. "I weighed just one hundred and nineteen
pounds when I landed out here," he explained, and then as he stood erect
and threw back his powerful shoulders his young companions laughed. It did
not seem possible that the strapping young giant, who now weighed at least
two hundred pounds, ever had been reduced to such a condition as he
described.

The immense strength of Zeke had never impressed the Go Ahead Boys more
than when he finished his simple task of interring the bones which had
been discovered by Fred and John.

"If I should meet him on the street alone," whispered Fred to John, "I
should kindly give him the whole sidewalk. I believe that he could do
what Grant says he can. Just look at those hands."

"What does Grant say he can do?"

"Why he declares that Zeke can bend the barrel of a rifle."



CHAPTER II

A CLUE


The thoughts of the two boys speedily were withdrawn from the physical
prowess of their guide. At that moment he had again taken the little book
he had found in the pocket of the coat of the dead man, and, opening it,
said, "I'm not sure, boys, whether this man was Simon Moultrie or not. It
sounds just like him, but there's so little writing that I can't tell."

"What does it say?" inquired John eagerly.

"Why, it's a diary. Some days he didn't write anything and other days when
he did write, the pages are torn and the writing is so blurred that no one
can make out what he means."

"Let me see it," said Fred, extending his hand as he spoke.

Taking the little book Fred saw that it apparently was a diary as Zeke had
suggested. It was for the year 1914. One entry was quite distinct wherein
the unfortunate man had recorded the story of his journey to Tombstone
for fresh supplies.

When he commented upon this fact, Zeke said, "That's what makes me think
it might have been Simon. As I said to you he only came in twice each year
and then stayed just long enough to get supplies to last him for the next
six months. Of course he may have come in when I didn't know anything
about it."

"When did be make his trips?" inquired Fred.

"Usually about October and. April He didn't like to lose much time from
his prospecting so he would come in just about the time the snow was gone
and get fitted out for his work that summer."

"If he wont in last April," suggested John, "he must have lost some of his
supplies."

"Nobody knows just where he made his head quarters. It's more'n likely
though that the coyotes, if they could talk, might be able to tell you
more about what became of old Simon's bacon than any living man could."

"Here's something!" exclaimed Fred excitedly. "This is worth while," he
added, after he had looked carefully through the various pages of the
diary and in the back part of the book, distinct from the numbered pages,
he had found the following entry:

    "June 1st.


    At last I have found it. It seems good after twenty-three years
    of disappointment to be able to say that I have found a good
    lead and that there is a sure enough vein here. I thought I was
    on the right trail when I was in the middle of Thorn's Gulch and
    I found pretty soon that I had struck it just right. I followed
    the lead four days and every day I was more convinced that I had
    found something at last worth while. The assay will be great.
    Soon I shall have all the money I need, and my poor old sister
    will no longer be broken hearted for me. I was determined to
    find a mine and now I have one that is worth all my long working
    and waiting."


"Any name signed to that?" inquired Zeke quickly when Fred ceased reading.

"No."

"Then you can't be sure it's Simon's."

"Yes, you can, if the book belonged to him, as you think it did. It's
plain this Simon, if that was his name, was an educated man."

"How do you know that?" inquired John.

"Why, the words are all spelled as they ought to be and his penmanship is
good. The only thing is that there isn't a name signed nor any sign that
will show who wrote it. Hello!" he added quickly, "here's something on the
next page that ought to interest us."

"What is it?" inquired John, approaching and looking over the shoulder of
his friend.

"It looks to me like a map," said Fred thoughtfully. "Here's a place that
is marked Thorn's Gulch and over here on one side is a spot marked Two
Crow Tree, and a little further up on the same side is Tom's Thumb. Across
the Gulch is a place marked Split Rock. Not far away from it is another
mark which he calls his stake. Then right opposite it are three other
marks,--1/2 m N.E., 1/4 m S.E., 1/4 m N.N.E. Here's a picture of it," Fred
added.

                   X Two Crow Tree.       X Tom's Thumb.
             .----------------------------------------------
          .    Thorn's Gulch
        .     .---------------------------------------------
      .    .            X Split Rock.
     /   /                        Stake      1/2 m N.E.
    |   |                           o        1/4 m S.E.
    |   |                                    1/4 m N.N.E.

[Illustration: Map]

"That's interesting," said Zeke thoughtfully. "I know where Thorn's Gulch
is."

"How far is it from here?" inquired Fred.

"Oh, I should say it is a good forty miles."

"Is it hard to get there?"

"I haven't ever been this way," replied Zeke, "but I'm thinkin' we can
make it."

"In which direction does the Gulch run?"

"It's a funny place," explained Zeke; "it runs mostly north and south. It
takes a sharp turn at the lower end."

"Probably that was to let out the water that had been caught in there."

"Probably," said Zeke scornfully. The guide had slight confidence in the
explanations which the boys had to give for the formation of the great
chasms found near the Colorado River and its tributaries. "I'm thinkin'
that the One who made that Canyon could just as well make it the way it is
as the way you say."

"No doubt about that," Fred laughingly had conceded. "It isn't a question
of ability, it is simply how it was done."

"According to what I can find out," said Zeke, "there seems to be styles
in explainin' things, same as there is in clothes. My wife doesn't want to
wear the dress she had two years ago even if it isn't worn out very much.
When I ask her what's the matter with it she says it's out o' style. It's
the same way with explaining how this great hole in the ground came here.
There seems to be a sort of 'style' about it. Some people say it's
erosion, others say it's the work of a big glacier. Then too I have heard
some say as how it was neither and some said it was both. That doesn't
make any difference though, but I know where Thorn's Gulch is and I can go
there if you want to."

"If Simon found a mine what was it?"

"Can't say," replied Zeke sharply. "It might be gold, it might be zinc and
more likely might be copper. Most likely of all though is that he didn't
find no mine 't all."

"There isn't anything more in the diary about it anyway," said Fred, who
now had looked through all the pages without discovering any further
description. "How long is Thorn's Gulch?"

"Somewhere between fifteen and twenty miles," answered Zeke.

"Whew!" whistled John. "If we're going to look up the lost mine we'll have
some 'looking' to do I'm thinking."

"Right you are," said Fred soberly. "Do you think we had better try to
find this place?"

"That's for you to say," said Zeke. "It's all one to me whether I help you
find a copper mine or whether I keep you from, tipping over in the boat.
I'm inclined to think the boat business is a good deal safer than the
other."

"But we can't throw away a clue like this," protested Fred. "Here it is,"
he added, again looking at the map. "Two Crow Tree and Tom's Thumb and
then across the Gulch about half way between the two places on the other
side is Split Bock and then back of that is the stake. I don't know what
these figures mean."

"I do," said John confidently, "it's a half-mile northeast, then you go a
quarter of a mile southeast and then you turn and go a quarter of a mile
north northeast. Why, it's just as simple as the multiplication table."

Zeke smiled and shook his head and although he did not speak it was plain
that he did not accept John's explanation of the somewhat mysterious
figures as correct.

"Did you ever hear of Two Crow Tree?" asked John.

"I never did," said Zeke solemnly.

"Well, did you ever hear of Tom's Thumb?"

"Can't say that I have."

"Then, it's plain," said John, winking at Fred as he spoke, "that we'll
have to get somebody who is more familiar than you are, Zeke, with this
part of the country."

"Huh!" snorted Zeke. "Don't you believe it. There ain't nobody in these
diggin's that knows the country like I do."

"But you don't know where Two Crow Tree is or Tom's Thumb, to say nothing
about Split Rock on the opposite side of the canyon."

"That doesn't mean that I can't find them," retorted Zeke. "You mustn't
forget either that those names may be the ones that Simon gave the places.
They may not be on the map at all and nobody else may ever have called
them by those names."

"Well, shall we try to find the place? That's the question," said John
somewhat impatiently.

"Not until the other boys and Pete come back here."

Pete was the name of the second guide and on most occasions Zeke professed
to despise his judgment and belittle his information.

"Oh, Pete will do just what you say is the thing to be done," said Fred,
winking at John as he spoke.

"That 's likely," assented Zeke. "All the same I'm not going to start off
with you two boys and leave the other two here for Pete to look after. I'm
afraid Pete couldn't keep off the coyotes, to say nothing of the
buzzards."

"Zeke," said Fred abruptly, "how long do you think it took the coyotes and
the buzzards to strip those bones that we found?"

"Not more than a half-hour."

"What?"

"That's right," said Zeke positively. "A job like that doesn't take a
half-dozen coyotes any time at all. And I'm thinkin' they had to divide
with the buzzards anyway."

John, who apparently for a few minutes had not been taking much interest
in the conversation now looked up from the place where he was standing
and said sharply, "I'm for looking for that lost mine."

"That's a good one," laughed Zeke.

"What is a good one?" demanded John tartly.

"Your lost mine. There wasn't any mine anyway. All there was to it was a
prospect. Old Simon maybe thought he had found a lead, but unless 'twas a
good deal surer than any other one he ever found, it wasn't worth much,
but all the same I'm for tryin' to find it if the other boys and Pete
agree to it."



CHAPTER III

TWO UNBIDDEN GUESTS


By this time the boys and their guide had returned to the place where they
had left their companions. Their two companions already were there and the
return of their friends was greeted by a shout from both Grant and George.

Other things, however, speedily were forgotten when Fred related the story
of their gruesome discovery in the sheltered place or cave on the sloping
side of the mountain.

Both George and Grant at once united in declaring that the decision which
their friends already had made to seek for the lost mine was to be highly
commended. Again and again the diary was inspected and the part wherein
Simon Moultrie had recorded his discovery of the great lead was read aloud
again and again.

Pete, the guide, a silent, bronzed man of thirty, openly scoffed at the
idea that any discovery worth while would follow their attempts to find
the spot indicated in the diary of the lost prospector.

"Nobody knows," declared Pete, "whether you found the bones of Simon
Moultrie or not."

"That doesn't make any difference," declared Fred sturdily, "if we can
only find the place he spoke of. Zeke says he knows where Thorn's Gulch
is--"

"Huh!" interrupted Pete. "I guess ev'rybody in this part o' th' country
knows where Thorn's Gulch is."


"But," continued Fred, winking at John as he spoke, "he doesn't know where
Two Crow Tree is nor just where Tom's Thumb is located. Of course you
know, so we came back to the camp."

"If I don't know I can find 'em, I guess," assented Pete sturdily.

"That's just what Zeke said," laughed Fred. "What we're looking for isn't
somebody who can _find_ them, but somebody who knows where they are."

"Don't you worry none about that," said Pete. "We'll find the spot if
there's any such place."

The camp was located in a most attractive spot, high above the roaring
river. It was on the sloping side of the towering border. A natural
pathway lead to the plateau above, while a spring of clear water was
conveniently near for their needs.

In spite of the July day the air was cool and the smoke of their camp-fire
was carried swiftly down the canyon. The sublime sight of the Grand Canyon
was before them, although from their camp they were unable to see the
largest of all the great gulches.

The sides of the various canyons, which the swiftly flowing Colorado had
made, were carved and fretted almost beyond belief. The various strata of
rock and soil that had been exposed to view by the centuries of action of
the mighty river were marvelously tinted. Indeed, George declared that the
blues, the grays, and reds and mauves were only less impressive than the
overwhelming size of the Grand Canyon itself. Grant, however, was positive
that the sculptured sides of the vast hole were equal in interest to the
coloring and the glory of the canyon itself.

With every changing angle of the sun the colors and shadings also changed.
Again and again the boys had marked the shadows formed every morning and
evening and they laughingly announced and described the various
resemblances which they had traced.

The Grand Canyon itself is only a part of the long canyon, in places a
mile deep and in certain places a score of miles from side to side,
through which the mighty river has forced its way.

The Colorado River starting in Southern Utah is formed by the junction of
the Green and the Grand Rivers. The former rising in Northern Utah,
traverses also a part of Wyoming, while the latter river traces the
western Rockies in Colorado.

Of this wonderful stream Major Powell, the first to descend the river,
wrote, "Ten million cascade brooks unite to form a hundred rivers. Beside
that, cataracts and a hundred roaring rivers unite to form the Colorado, a
mad turbid stream."

One distinguished writer, describing the mighty canyon, said it is "most
mysterious in its depth than the Himalayas in their height. It is true
that the Grand Canyon remains not the eighth but the first wonder of the
world. There is nothing like it."

Our special interest, however, is in the four boys and their two guides,
who now were assembled in the camp. Every boy was bronzed and toughened by
his exposure and labors. Packs were to be seen which had been brought into
camp on the backs of the various members of the party. Each pack contained
about sixty pounds of food and materials necessary for the expedition. In
addition, guns had been brought, fishing rods were visible and other
implements, which were a part of the camp life were on every side.

Burros had been used to carry some of the burdens until the boys had
entered within the canyon itself. Then the burros with the Indian boy who
had accompanied them as far as the border, turned back to the place from
which they had come. It was not believed that sufficient material would be
left after the expedition was completed to require again the services of
the donkeys.

After supper the boys stretched themselves on the ground near the fire
which was still burning.

"We have kept together all the way as far as this," suggested Fred, "but
I'm wondering now if we wouldn't do better if we divided into two
parties."

"What for?" demanded Grant, sitting quickly erect.

"I've just been talking to Zeke and asking him whether he didn't think we
would need more supplies than we have before we came back."

"Nonsense," said John. "We have all we want. It isn't going to take us
more than a year to find that place Simon Moultrie told about. If we don't
get some trace of it within a few days I'm not in favor of keeping up the
search and for that reason I don't believe we'll want any more supplies."

"Nobly spoken!" laughed George. "It sounds like the supreme wisdom of Soc.
What do you say about it?" he added, turning to Grant as he spoke.

"I know just enough to know that I don't know anything about it," answered
Grant.

"But what do you think?" protested Fred.

"I think we may need more than we have. What does Zeke say about it?"
replied Grant.

"Zeke doesn't think we had better divide again. He says that if we need
supplies we can go in for them, but the probabilities are that we shall be
back long before any such lack comes. He thinks we had better all keep
together. There's safety in numbers sometimes, you know."

"I agree," said Grant, "if that is Zeke's opinion. Still when we get on
the ground where our real search begins I'm of the opinion that we'll get
along better and faster if we make two parties instead of one."

"There will be time enough to talk about that when we have to," laughed
Fred. "Look yonder," he abruptly added, pointing as he spoke to two men
who could be seen coming down the natural approach to the camp. "Where did
they come from? Who are they? What do you suppose they want? You don't
suppose it is somebody coming in with a message of bad news for us, do
you?"

No one replied to the questions of the startled boy, but every member of
the party at once turned and keenly watched the approaching men. Both were
walking, although Zeke explained in a low voice that doubtless they had
burros somewhere not far away.

In a brief time the two strangers approached the camp and immediately made
themselves known.

"I've seen both those men before," whispered Fred excitedly.

"Where?" inquired John.

"They were on the train when we came. They sat right across the aisle from
us. I'm sure they are the same men for I never shall forget the scar on
the left cheek of that short one."

The two approaching strangers were now so near that it was possible for
John to confirm the statement of his friend. A long livid scar, extending
almost entirely across his left cheek, was visible on the face of the
younger man. His companion was taller, evidently at least ten years older
and had a face which was not altogether prepossessing at first sight.

"Yes, sir," repeated Fred. "I saw both those fellows on the car the day
before we left the train."

"Evenin'," called the man with the scar.

"Same to you," retorted Zeke.

"We're doin' a bit o' prospecting or at least we expect to do some and got
caught up here in a gully which we can't very well get across where we
are. We saw the smoke of your fire and thought we might come down and
perhaps you would invite us to spend the night with you."

"You're entirely welcome," said Zeke. The guide's manner was quiet and
there was nothing to belie the apparent cordiality of the statement he had
just made.

The young campers, however, were by no means convinced that their unbidden
visitors were parties whom they could welcome.

Already the sun was below the western cliffs, although its beams in
certain places still flashed between the mountains and tinged the sides of
the adjacent canyon with myriad dancing and delicate colors.

Hospitality, however, was a part of the life on the plains and seldom was
any unexpected guest turned away from a human habitation or company.
Suspicious though the boys certainly were they did not offer any protest
and in response to their invitation to share in the remnants of their
evening meal, the two strangers at once accepted and seated themselves not
far from the camp-fire.

It was not until they had eaten that they explained more in detail who
and what they were. Not long before this time they had come from Tombstone
to search for a mine of whose existence they declared they had received
information from certain somewhat vague reports.

"The trouble is, Mr. Stranger," one of them explained, "that we don't know
just where this mine is. There was a report in Tombstone that an old
prospector up here had struck it rich, but that he died or at least hadn't
been heard from since the report started. The Indians say that he was
looking for his mine in a part of the country where the Great Spirit has
forbidden the children o' men to come. They declare that this prospector
didn't die a natural death."

"What did he die of?" inquired Zeke.

"Why they say that no man ever goes into that region and comes out alive,
or if he does happen to succeed in that, he can't dodge the bad luck which
is sure to catch him."

"And do you want to find the place?" inquired Fred quizzically.

"We do and if there is any such place we're going to find it."

The four boys meanwhile had glanced apprehensively at one another when
they heard the reference to the discovery of a mine which soon had been
lost. The statement too that the original prospector was dead increased
the mystery as well as the interest of the Go Ahead Boys.

What would these strangers say if they knew that already in the possession
of the Go Ahead Boys was the statement of an old prospector who very
likely was the very one to whom the unwelcome guests had frequently
referred?



CHAPTER IV

TWO THIEVES IN THE NIGHT


The question was speedily answered when, to the dismay of his companions,
John said abruptly, "That must be something like the man whose body we
found to-day."

Instantly both strangers were staring at the boy who had spoken. Even in
the dim light their intense interest was plainly manifest. Zeke was doing
his utmost by absurd motions to impress upon the mind of John the fact
that he must say nothing more.

The two visitors at the camp, however, were too deeply interested to lose
the opportunity. Speaking slowly and as if he was not especially
interested, the man with the scar on his face said in a drawling manner,
"Where was that, sonny?"

"I don't know just where it was," replied John. "We found the body or
rather the bones of a man to-day."

"What did you do with them?"

"Buried them, of course." John was aware now that his friends were angry
at his uncalled-for statements. His obstinacy, however, had been aroused
and he was ignoring all the signs and motions that were given him from
every side.

"Wasn't there anything besides the bones?" inquired the visitor.

"They had been picked clean. Zeke here thought that the coyotes and
buzzards had been at work."

"Probably had. You didn't find any clothes?"

"I believe we did get a coat and a pair of shoes."

"Would you mind letting me look at them?"

John turned to the guide and said, "Let them see that coat, Zeke. There's
no harm in that," he said loudly as he turned to his companions.

Reluctantly the guide displayed the coat which he had dug from the sand
and eagerly both visitors inspected it.

For a moment no one spoke and then the man with the scar said abruptly,
"I'm sure that's old Sime Moultrie's coat."

Again there was a brief silence before the man continued, "He was a
strange duffer. I have seen him off an' on the last fifteen year. He never
gave up his search for a mine and I guess he never found one. Strange how
a man will keep on as if he was all possessed when he has once got started
prospecting."

"What do you suppose happened to him?" inquired Fred.

"There's no tellin' as long as I didn't see the skeleton. Zeke here ought
to know."

"I don't know anything 'bout it," said Zeke gruffly.

"Well, the possibilities are," said the man with the scar, "that he took
sick an' died. He must have been all alone and nobody can tell how long he
may have been sick. As I rec'lect, he used to come in about ev'ry Spring
and Fall for fresh supplies. He wouldn't 'low any one to go with him and
he didn't have much to say to any one when he came in to the town."

"Did you find any papers in the coat?" inquired the second stranger, who
up to this time had seldom spoken.

"Not very much. We couldn't find anything with his name on it," explained
Zeke, "so we couldn't be sure whose bones they were."

"You didn't find any papers at all?" again inquired the man.

"We didn't find anything that showed who he was," said Zeke slowly, "same
as I told you."

"The coat then is the only thing you have got to identify him with?"

"We found a pick-axe and spade and hammer," explained Zeke.

"Have you got them here?"

"Yes, they're somewhere about the camp. I don't know just where we did put
them."

"Better let us have a look at them."

"It's too dark to see them now. Wait 'till mornin'."

"We aren't going to wait until morning," laughed the man with the scar.
"We've got a long hike and we thought we would make part of it before
sun-up. It's a good deal cooler travelin' at night, and especially when
there's a good moon, than it is to crawl across those tablelands when the
thermometer is about a hundred and ten in the shade; and there isn't any
shade."

"Better wait until mornin'," said Zeke abruptly.

"No, we're goin' now. Come on, Jim," the man added, as he turned to his
companion. "It's time for us to be movin'."

Without further words the two strange visitors departed from the camp and
soon disappeared along the winding way that lead to the summit.

"That's a nice thing you did, Jack!" exclaimed Fred angrily as soon as the
two men were gone.

"What's the harm?" retorted John. "I didn't tell them anything about any
lost mine."

"You didn't have to," retorted Fred, "after what they said. They had
heard about a man dying, though how they ever knew beats me. And they
believed that he was the man who was reported to have found a great lead."

"What of it?"

"A good deal of it," joined in Grant. "You have given them an idea and
they won't forget it."

"What good is an idea?" demanded John. "They haven't any paper and they
can't find the place without it."

"All the same," said Fred, "I'm sorry you said anything about Simon
Moultrie."

"But I didn't say anything about him," protested John. "They were the ones
that did most of the talking. I thought if I told them about the bones we
found this afternoon that perhaps they would talk some more and say
something that would help us."

"Great! Great!" laughed George scornfully. "You 'done noble,' Jack. If
those men don't find the place, you may rest easy that they will keep
track of us for a while."

"Why will they?"

"Because they'll want to see if we found anything in the pocket of Simon
Moultrie's coat that would give us any clue to the place where he had made
his great discovery. They'll watch us for a while anyway and if we don't
do anything, they may make up their minds that we haven't found anything;
but if we begin to do anything like making a search among the mountains,
you mark my words those two fellows will show up again just as sure as
you're born."

"We'll know about that later," said John.

For an hour the boys remained seated about their camp-fire, talking over
the unexpected visit of the two strangers and the marked interest they had
manifested in John's story. Conversation gradually ceased and for a time
the Go Ahead Boys were chiefly interested in the fantastic figures cast by
the flames and in the marvelous tints of the clouds as the moonlight was
shining through them. Nearby was the bottomless gulf. They were unable to
see the mighty chasm, but the knowledge that they were near its brink
produced a feeling all its own.

At last however, Fred declared it was time for the Go Ahead Boys to turn
in. His own example was speedily followed and in a brief time silence
rested over the camp.

The motionless figures on the blankets, with every boy sleeping with his
feet turned toward the fire, which now had died down, presented a sight
which would have appealed strongly to their distant friends in the east
had they been able to see it. Seldom did any figure stir and the weird
silence was unbroken save by an occasional sigh of the wind as it swept
past the dwarfed trees on the mountain side.

How much time had elapsed Fred did not know when he was suddenly aroused
and quickly sat erect. For a moment he was unable to determine just where
he was but the sight of his sleeping companions soon recalled the events
of the preceding day, and, satisfied, he was about to resume his place on
his blanket when he was startled by the sight of two crouching figures
approaching the camp. They came from behind the buttress of rock about
thirty feet from the fire. Both figures were crouching low and moving
slowly and with extreme caution.

Hastily Fred resumed his place on the blanket, having instantly decided
not yet to awaken his comrades. He was eager to discover what the purpose
of the men in visiting the camp was.

His heart was beating rapidly as he peered intently at the men. They had
now drawn close to the camp and again had stopped to make certain that
their approach had not been discovered.

Still moving silently they began to circle the place, moving in opposite
directions. Several times each stopped to examine what he had discovered
in the pockets of a coat he had found. Apparently, however, the search
was not altogether satisfactory. After they had completely circled the
camp, noiselessly as they had approached the two men withdrew.

It was evident that they had taken nothing of value and Fred indeed was
almost ready to conclude that he had been dreaming or that his eyes had
deceived him. The silence was still unbroken save by the occasional sigh
of some heavy sleeper. The passing clouds were still reflecting the light
of the moon and in the dim light Fred again thought he perceived the
approach of the two crouching men.

In a moment, however, he was convinced that he was mistaken. Had he made
the same mistake before? Had he thought he had seen, without actually
seeing, two men creep into the camp? Almost convinced that he had been
dreaming, Fred did not awaken any of his comrades, thereby escaping any
ridicule that might be heaped upon him for disturbing their slumbers and
in a few minutes was himself again soundly asleep.



CHAPTER V

A START AND A LOSS


When morning came Fred was still uncertain whether his experience of the
preceding night had been a dream or a reality. As he glanced at the
enthusiastic countenances of his friends he was almost convinced that what
he had seen had been the shadowy figures of a dream. Besides he was
fearful of the bantering which the Go Ahead Boys might bestow upon him if
it was discovered that there was no basis for his statement.

However, as Fred deemed the matter too important to be entirely ignored,
he said while the boys were seated about the improvised table, "Were any
of you fellows up last night?"

"Not guilty," laughed George. "I was asleep almost before I had stretched
out."

The other two boys also declared that their slumbers had not been
disturbed and that neither had wandered about the camp.

"What's the trouble, Freddie?" laughed Grant. "You act either as if you
don't believe us or something happened."

"Well, I'm not sure, but something did happen," said Fred slowly.

"What was it? Tell us your story," demanded John.

"Either I dreamed or else I surely saw two men moving about the camp.
There was a moon and the place was almost as light as day."

"Who were the men?" demanded Grant.

"Perhaps they weren't 'men' at all," replied Fred, who was certain now
that he was safe from ridicule.

"Do you think they were our visitors?"

"Yes," replied Fred promptly, "that's exactly what I do think."

"What were they doing?" asked John.

All the Go Ahead Boys were now deeply interested in Fred's statement and
eager to hear what more he might say.

"I saw the two figures moving about the camp and at first I thought they
were some of you. Pretty soon, however, I made up my mind that they
weren't. I turned over on my side and pretended to be asleep, though I was
watching these men all the time."

"Why didn't you wake us up?" demanded John.

"Because I wasn't sure that I myself didn't need waking up."

"You're a great lad," said John scornfully. "Zeke," he called, turning to
the guide, "Fred thinks he saw those two men that were in our camp last
night come back."

The guide looked keenly at Fred, and it was plain he instantly was
interested and perhaps alarmed.

"What were they doin'?" he asked slowly.

"Why, they were moving about the camp," replied Fred. "It didn't seem to
me they were here more than five or ten minutes but just as I was about to
call you or the boys they disappeared."

Zeke said no more as he turned at once to the place where the garments and
implements of Simon Moultrie had been placed.

The four boys were aware now that the guide was somewhat alarmed and
instantly all four ran to join him.

"You see it is gone," said Zeke blankly as he displayed the empty pockets
in the coat of the dead prospector.

"Gone!" exclaimed the Go Ahead Boys together.

"It isn't here anyway."

"You mean his diary?" demanded Fred.

"That's exactly what I mean. Your dream was a nightmare and it's likely
to be a still bigger one for us."

"Do you think those men took that diary?" asked Grant.

"You can see for yourself," retorted Zeke gruffly.

"Maybe you put it somewhere else," suggested George.

"Huh!" snapped the guide. "I left it right in the pocket. Eight in that
there pocket," he added as he again displayed the coat.

"What did they want of it?" inquired John.

"They wanted what you told them about."

"I didn't tell them anything about anything," said John angrily.

"The trouble with you, Jack, is that you can't read between the lines. You
see, those men were not born yesterday and they could put two and two
together."

"But I didn't give them anything to put together," protested John.

"If I recollect aright," suggested Grant, "there was something said about
the coat and the tools that the prospector had with him. If I'm correct it
seems to me that the men wanted to see the coat and the axe and the spade
and the hammer."

"What of it?" demanded John.

"Everything," retorted Grant. "They probably suspected that if there was
a coat there were pockets in it. And if there were pockets then there was
something in them."

"They guessed right, all right," laughed George.

"Never you mind," said John. "I remember exactly what the diary said and I
can draw another picture of that Gulch with just exactly the places marked
on it that the prospector had marked."

"Try it," suggested Fred.

"That's just what I'll do," said John as he turned to the tent from which
he speedily returned with a pad and pencil.

For a moment no one spoke while John busily made his drawing.

"There," he said as he held it forth to view. "That's just as good as the
original."

"It's a mighty pretty picture," scoffed George. "The only trouble with it
is that no one knows whether it is correct or not."

"Zeke, isn't that drawing all right?" demanded John as he held forth the
paper to the guide.

"It isn't so far wrong," acknowledged Zeke cautiously, "but I guess we'll
be able to do something whether we have any paper or not. I'm more afraid
of those two men than I am that we shan't be able to draw th' picture that
old Sime had in his diary."

All four boys looked keenly into the face of the guide but no one inquired
concerning the meaning of his words.

"Well, the little book is gone, anyway," continued Zeke. "We've got to
decide what we'll do without it. When do you boys want to start?"

"What do you mean? For the lost mine?" demanded Fred.

"That's what I thought you wanted to do."

"Well, we do all right," said Fred quickly. "Are we ready to start?"

"We can be in a few minutes," said Zeke. "I think we can drop down the
river in the two boats. That will be easier than climbing up the cliffs."

"Great!" exclaimed Fred enthusiastically. "How far can we go with the
boats?"

"Ten or twelve miles," answered Zeke. "And when we stop we'll be more than
half way to Thorn's Gulch. It's so much quicker to go by the river than
over land."

"That will be fine," repeated Fred. "Let's get started."

"It's going to be hot in the middle of the day," suggested Zeke warningly.

"All the more reason then for starting right away," said Grant.

"All right," assented Zeke. "We'll put things to rights here in the camp
and then we'll go down to start on our voyage."

The light tent was folded and concealed under the projecting rock nearby.
Most of the cooking utensils also were hidden or at least placed where
they would not attract the attention of any chance visitor. It was
extremely unlikely that any one would come to the place, although among
the parties visiting the Grand Canyon there might be some who would be
attracted by the safe landing place, just as the Go Ahead Boys and their
guides already had been.

"We had better plan to be gone about four days!" spoke up Pete who up to
this time had taken no part in the morning conversation.

"I should think we ought to have supplies for more than that," said Fred.

Pete, however, insisted that the time he had named would be ample for
their first attempt. "If we don't strike anything," he explained, "we
shan't need to stay any longer and if we do we can mark the spot or leave
someone there on guard and the rest can come back for more supplies."

"What do you think, Zeke?" asked Fred.

"I think Pete is all right," replied the guide. "We want to leave our
supplies here pretty well protected and we don't want to take enough with
us to tire us out carrying them. We'll have to measure it down pretty
fine. We want just enough but not an ounce more than we ought to have."

Zeke's word carried the day and in a brief time the Go Ahead Boys were
busily engaged in packing the few belongings they planned to take with
them on their expedition. These were conveniently arranged so that they
might be carried upon the backs of the boys, making a burden that did not
exceed twenty-five pounds in weight for each boy when the arrangement was
at last completed.

"Everything all ready now?" inquired Zeke when at last the packages,
implements and knapsacks had all been prepared.

"How is the river right below us?" asked John.

"It's a bit rough and pretty swift for a spell," replied Zeke.

"Any danger of capsizing?" asked Fred nervously.

"There's always that danger," replied Zeke solemnly. "Nobody knows when
the boat may turn squarely over. If you think you would rather walk across
country we can try it that way," he added, winking solemnly at Fred's
companions as he spoke.

Cautiously the party made their way down the canyon and at last after
several exciting experiences arrived on the shore of the rushing
Colorado.

Zeke's statement that the river here was rough was speedily confirmed. The
tossing waves seemed to be rushing at break-neck speed past the little
point. There was a bend in the channel a half-mile below and a projecting
point there was plainly seen.

"I don't like the look of that," muttered Fred as he first saw the rushing
stream.

"There's something I like still less," said Grant.

"What do you mean?" demanded Fred.

"Why there's only one boat there."

"What!" exclaimed George and Fred together.

"That's right," repeated Grant. "One of the boats is gone."



CHAPTER VI

DIVIDED


For a moment the boys stood and stared blankly at the one boat and at the
place on the shore where the other had been drawn from the water. There
was no question now as to their loss. Every member of their party was
present and yet only one boat was to be seen.

Certain of their supplies also were missing and the discovery served to
increase the feeling of dismay.

"Do you suppose that boat got loose?" inquired Fred, who was the first to
speak.

"I don't 'suppose it got loose,'" retorted Grant somewhat gruffly.

"Do you think somebody took it?" again Fred asked.

"If it didn't get loose, please tell me why it's gone? There's only one
way the boat could get into the river. One was for it to get loose and the
other for somebody to work it loose."

"Then the question is," said George, "who took it?"

"And there isn't much question about that," said Fred confidently.

"Do you think those two men stole the boat? I mean the two that were in
our camp last night?"

"I don't know who else could take it," said John. "And it's my fault too,
isn't it?"

"In a way it is your fault, all right," said Grant. "You started those men
on the trail. If you had kept still no one would have known anything about
it."

"That's right," said John, closing his eyes and doing his utmost to assume
the expression of a martyr. "If anything goes wrong, put the blame on
little Johnnie. Cock Robin wasn't in the same class with little Johnnie--"

"You've talked enough," broke in Zeke. "All your talkin' isn't goin' to
bring back our boat. The question is what are we goin' to do, now that one
of the boats is gone."

"Can't we all get into one boat?" inquired George.

"You can," snapped Zeke, "but you won't stay in very long. She would never
carry six."

"What shall we do, then?" asked Fred.

"I think the first thing for us to do is to look around and see if we can
find anything that will give us a clue to the takin' o' the boat."

Acting upon the suggestion the boys at once began a search along the
shore, Fred and John steadily moving back from the river.

Not one of them, however, was able to discover any signs of the presence
of the men whom they suspected. The plain fact was that the heavy boat was
gone and with it had gone many of their supplies.

It was true that one boat was still left, but the guide's statement that
it could not carry six left only one way out of the present difficulty.

"We can do one of two things," suggested Pete when the members of the
party assembled again. "We can leave some o' you here and the rest o' us
can strike out across the country for more supplies. It won't be so hard
comin' back as it will be goin'. We'll get some burros to carry the stuff
back for us and then they can go back with the drivers."

"If we don't do that what else can we do?" inquired Grant.

"Some of us can go down the river in the boat and then strike out for
Thorn's Gulch while the others are coming overland."

"It will take two days to do that," said Fred ruefully.

"And the other will take four and maybe five," retorted Zeke.

A marked difference of opinion appeared in the company, but at last it was
decided that Pete and John should go for additional supplies while all the
other members of the party were to remain where they then were.

Sharp directions were given by the departing Pete that no one should leave
the camp during his absence.

The Go Ahead Boys promised faithfully to follow his suggestion and within
an hour Pete, who was nearly as tall as John, and his companion had
disappeared from sight.

A renewed search for evidences of the men who had taken the boats was
made, and Zeke and Fred even went down the stream a mile vainly hoping
that they might find the boat stranded somewhere in the region. Their
search was unavailing and when they returned to the camp it was with a
fixed opinion that the sole solution of their difficulties was to be found
in patiently remaining in camp until Pete and John had made their long
journey across the desert.

That evening while they were seated about the campfire conversation turned
upon the mighty river near which they had found their resting place.

"Yes, air," Zeke was saying, "the first man an' about the only man that
ever went the whole length of the Colorado was Major Powell."

"Did he go in a little boat?" inquired Fred.

"Yes, he had four boats?" replied Zeke. "They were all small, but every
one was built for the voyage."

"Did he go alone?" inquired George.

"No. Nine men went with him."

"When was it?" asked Grant.

"In 1869. It took a lot of nerve to start on that trip too, let me tell
you. Even the Indians were afraid of the river and every one of them said
he didn't know really what the river was."

"What do you mean?" asked Fred.

"Why the redskins had all sorts of stories about the Colorado from the
place where the Grand and the Green join to make it. And they had a lot to
make them afraid, too. You see no one ever knew, when his boat got caught
in the currents or whirlpools, whether there might be ahead o' him some
great underground passage where the river had cut its way and the boat
might be carried in there and never get out. Then too when they started on
a swift current no one could tell when the water got rougher and swifter
whether they were goin' head on for some great, roarin' cataract. Yes,
sir, it was a very ticklish trip that Major Powell took, and what made it
still worse for him was the fact that he had only one arm."

"What did he do with the other one?" inquired Fred.

"Had it shot away in the Civil War. I tell you he had more nerve than any
man that ever came out to these parts. Unless p'raps it was Bill Williams,
whose grave is away over yonder more than fifty miles beyond the Grand
Canyon."

"Did the men who were with Major Powell come through all right?" asked
Fred.

"All those that stayed with him did. There were four that got discouraged,
and cleared out and left the very day when Major Powell floated clear of
the Grand Canyon. It's strange about that. The exploring party came out
all right, but not one of the four men that deserted was ever afterwards
heard of. Probably they tried to make their way up some o' these cliffs
and tumbled and fell."

"Did you say that the Indians knew all about the Grand Canyon?" asked
Grant.

"No, I didn't say no sech thing," said Zeke sharply. "What I said was that
the Indians were afraid of the place. They had any number of stories about
the region."

"What were they?" asked Fred eagerly.

"Oh, I don't know," answered Zeke, "There was one, I understand, about
the Indians believin' or at least reportin' that the Grand Canyon was the
road to heaven. They had a story that one time one of their big chiefs
lost his wife. He was very fond of her and when she died it seemed to take
the heart right out o' him. He spent most o' his time mournin' for her and
pretty soon the life o' the tribe was beginnin' to suffer.

"At last, at least so the Indians say, the god, Tavwoats, offered to prove
to the big chief that his wife was happier than she had been even when she
was livin' 'long with him. The chief took him at his word and Tavwoats
started right away to take the chief where he could look on the happiness
of his wife. It seems the trail he made to the Happy Land was what we now
call the Grand Canyon. They say that there were more bright colors and
pretty places to be seen there then than one can find now.

"When Tavwoats and the big chief came back through the trail among the
mountains, the god rolled a wild and roaring river into it to keep out
those who did not deserve to go to the Happy Land. That's the way the
Colorado River was formed, at least accordin' to th' Indian story. Of
course they didn't know what we know now that the Grand and Green joined
forces to make up the big stream."

"That's a very pretty story," said Grant, rising as he spoke. "The Indians
must have had a lot of poetry in them to make up so many wonderful
legends."

"You would have thought they had poetry in them," said Zeke, "if you ever
happened to be out here when there was a Navajo or Apache uprising. I tell
you the air is full of poetry then, the same as it is full of rows and
yells and shouts, and you can see the redskins full of poetry,--some
people out here call the stuff they drink by another name,--ridin' like
mad 'round the desert shooting every man, woman and child they can find.
Oh, yes," he added, "it's a whole lot o' poetry."

The hour, however, had arrived when the Go Ahead Boys were ready to retire
for the night. Fred was the first to set an example but in a brief time
the other Go Ahead Boys had followed, the fire had been extinguished and
silence rested over the region.



CHAPTER VII

TWO NAVAJOS


Early the following morning, while the boys were preparing breakfast, they
were startled by the approach of two men.

"Look yonder!" exclaimed Fred, who naturally was the first to discover the
approach of the strangers. "Are those the two men that were in the camp
the other day?"

"No," replied Zeke quickly after he had gazed long and earnestly at the
men who could be seen coming down the pathway from the top of the cliff.
"They're Indians."

"Is that so?" demanded George who was instantly excited. "What are they?"

"Navajoes," replied Zeke after another inspection.

"What do you suppose they want?" asked Grant.

"Everything you have got and some things besides," answered Zeke, his
affection for the redmen being not very strong. "The first thing they'll
ask us for will be the breakfast."

"We'll give them some breakfast," said Fred promptly.

"I didn't say nothin' about _some_ breakfast," spoke up Zeke. "I said the
breakfast. They'll want it all and some besides."

"Then the only thing for us to do," laughed Fred, "is to begin right
away."

Fred's example was speedily followed by his friends, who quickly took
pieces of the sputtering bacon on sharpened sticks which they held in
their right hands while with their left they grasped pieces of the cooked
cereal which Zeke had been frying for breakfast.

All were busily engaged in this pleasing occupation when the two Indians
approached the camp. The redmen were the first to speak and to the
surprise of the Go Ahead Boys they addressed them in excellent English, at
least the one who appeared to be the leader was able to express himself
clearly and in correct form.

"We would like some breakfast," said the spokesman, who was a young Indian
perhaps twenty-one years of age.

"All right, sir," spoke up Fred before any one else could respond to the
request. "We'll fix you some in a minute."

Fortunately the supply was ample for the present meal at least, and both
Navajos, seating themselves upon a projecting rock, almost devoured the
food which was given them.

The Go Ahead Boys were eager to talk with the redmen, but silence rested
over the camp. Zeke was particularly gruff in his manner and apparently
ignored the presence of the strangers.

At last the Indian who had been chief spokesman said, "We have come to ask
if two white men have come to your camp within a few days."

"What do you want to know for?" asked Zeke quickly.

Whatever his reasons may have been for inquiring the Navajo did not offer
any explanations.

"Yes, there were two men here but they have gone," said Zeke slowly.

"Did one of them have a scar across his cheek that reached almost from his
nose to his ear?"

"Yes."

"Was the other man larger and heavier?"

"That's right," said Fred, aware that both his companions were as deeply
interested as he in the conversation.

"Where did they go?"

"We do not know," spoke up Zeke. "We didn't invite them to come here and
they didn't stop to say good-by when they left."

"Do you know their names?"

"I can't say that we do," replied Zeke. "Was there anything special that
you wanted o' them?"

The Navajo glanced quickly at his companion, who plainly understood the
question and then said, "Yes, we want very much to see them."

"Well, I'm afraid then that you'll have to go where they are."

"Did they go down the river or did they go up the cliffs?"

"The last we saw of them they were headed for the sky," said Zeke glumly.

"Did they have ponies?"

"We didn't see any. They may have left them up yonder, but they didn't
bring any into the camp."

The Navajo again turned to his companion and carried on a conversation in
a low voice, apparently ignoring the presence of the others.

"If there was any message you wanted left," suggested Zeke, "we might take
it and tell them that two Navajoes are waiting for them."

"No," replied the Indian abruptly. "Say nothing. Do you know whether they
are coming back to your camp or not?"

"I hope not," said Zeke.

"Have you any reason to think they were bad men?"

"I don't know nothin' about them, just as I told you," responded Zeke
gruffly. "As I said, the only way you can find that out is to go where
they are."

"And do you know whether they started toward Thorn's Gulch?"

"Where?" demanded Fred quickly.

"Thorn's Gulch."

"What makes you think they were headed for Thorn's Gulch?" demanded Zeke.

"I didn't say we knew," said the Indian solemnly. "I asked you if you
knew."

"Well, we don't," said Zeke. "What is there about Thorn's Gulch that makes
you think they might want to go there?"

Instead of replying to the question the Navajo again turned to his
companion and carried on another conversation with him in still lower
tones than before. Then abruptly rising, the Indian, who had been acting
as chief spokesman, said, "I don't think we need to trouble you any more."

"Hold on a minute," said Fred. "What's your hurry?"

Both Indians had turned as if they were about to retrace their way along
the steep incline by which they had approached the camp. Halting abruptly
at the question, before either could speak Fred continued, "You talk a
good deal like a man who has not been trained as most of the Indians I
have seen around here have been."

"Yes," said the Indian, a broad smile appearing on his face as he spoke,
"My name is Thomas Jefferson, in the white man's language."

"Thomas Jefferson?" demanded Grant. "Where in the world did you get that
name?"

"When I went to the white man's school they gave me a white man's name."

"Where were you in school?"

"Pennsylvania."

"Is that so?" exclaimed Grant, who was especially interested in such
matters.

"Yes," explained the Indian, "I was sent east by some missionaries to be
educated. As I told you they gave me a white man's name and I was there
three years in the school."

"So that is where you learned to speak such good English is it?" said
George.

"Yes."

"Do you find that your education helps you a good deal out here in your
life among the Navajos?"

For a moment the young Indian stared blankly at the inquirer and then
without replying to the question, once more turned to his companion and
after a brief conversation he again faced the boys and said, "We thank you
for the breakfast you have given us. We must go now."

"Shall I tell those men if they come back," spoke up Zeke, "that Thomas
Jefferson and another Navajo have been here to see them?"

There was a gleam in the eyes of the namesake of the great statesman when
he answered, "Say nothing."

"Yes," said Zeke, "but I would like to know if they are looking for you."

"We are looking for them," retorted the Navajo.

"Well, all I can say," said Zeke, "is that I hope you'll find them. Maybe
you'll find them too before they find the claim staked by old Sime
Moultrie."

Plainly the Navajo was startled by the guide's suggestion for he stopped
abruptly and said, "Is Simon Moultrie dead?"

"Yes, and his bones have been buried," answered Zeke.

"Where?"

"Not far from where he died."

"When did he die?"

"That I can't say."

"And did he stake a claim?"

"Did I say he did? Did you know him?"

"Everybody knew Simon Moultrie," said the Indian. "He came to Tombstone
many times for supplies."

"That's right, he did," acknowledged Zeke. "He was a great old
prospector. He kept it up all his life but I never knew of his finding
anything worth staking."

"He did not stake any claim?"

"I can't say."

The Indian looked keenly at the guide and then turning looked with equal
keenness at the boys who were greatly enjoying the conversation. He did
not say any more, however, and in company with the other Navajo at once
departed from the camp.

Silently the Go Ahead Boys watched the departing redmen until their forms
had been hidden from sight by one of the numerous projecting cliffs. Then
the tension was somewhat relieved and Fred turned to Zeke and said, "What
do you think those Indians wanted?"

"My opinion is that they have gotten wind somehow that those two men are
looking for the claim that old Sime Moultrie may have staked."

"What will happen," inquired Grant, "if the Navajos begin to look for the
claim and come upon those two white men there?"

"It will depend on which party can draw his gun first," replied Zeke
dryly.

"Do you think it's as bad as that?" demanded Fred excitedly.

"I don't think nothin' about it. I haven't much use for those white men,
and when it comes to a Navajo--why you have heard what the only kind of a
good Indian is, haven't you?"

"A dead Indian," answer Grant with a laugh.

"Well, I didn't say it. You said it. Did I ever tell you about the Navajo
squaw that some of the women up here, stopping over at Albuquerque, fitted
out for her wedding?"

"No," replied the boys together. "What did they do?"

"Why they gave her six dresses and a lot of other things they thought she
would need as soon as she was in her own house. Some of them stopped there
a year or two afterward and looked her up. The squaw was wearing one of
the dresses that the white women had given her, but they found out that
when one dress had become so old and torn that the squaw couldn't wear it
much longer she would just put another dress right on over it and wear
that until it was worn out, and then she put on number three and then
number four. She was wearing six altogether when this white woman found
her."

"That's a fine story, Zeke," laughed Fred.

"It's almost good enough to be true."

"No, sir, it's too good to be true," spoke up George.

"That doesn't make any difference," said Zeke sturdily. "I'm telling you
what was told me. That's all I know about it."

"Zeke," said Grant, who up to this time had taken little part in the
conversation, "if you really think those Indians are after those two white
men and that something may happen if they happen to meet, don't you think
we ought to get word to them somehow?"

A grin appeared on the face of the guide as he replied, "That's a good
'un! That's a good 'un! The chances are ten to one that if you interfered
with them in their little game you would have all four o' 'em turn against
you. But that hasn't anything to do with what's facin' us. We've got to
make up our minds pretty quick what we'll do."



CHAPTER VIII

WAITING


"What do you mean?" inquired Fred.

"Why, I mean that if we're goin' to be fools enough to try to find old
Sime Moultrie's stake then we'll have to take whatever comes to us."

"And you think we're likely to have trouble with the Indians or the two
white men if we begin to look up the place?"

"We may not see either of 'em," replied Zeke evasively.

"Yes, but if we do see them," said Fred persistently. "Do you think we're
going to have any trouble?"

"That remains to be seen."

"But do you think we will?" persisted Fred.

"A good deal will depend on which party strikes what he thinks is the
claim first. If we get it I don't believe they will bother us and if they
get it I'm mighty sure we shan't bother them. But there," he added, "I
think I'm takin' a good deal more trouble than I need to. The chances are
one hundred to one that there isn't any such thing as Moultrie's stake,
and if there isn't, why then of course we're all safe anyway." Zeke threw
back his head and laughed noisily, a recreation which he seldom permitted
himself to enjoy. The joke, however, which he had just perpetrated was
such a rarity that even the boys were compelled to join in his mirth.

Meanwhile there was a long and weary waiting before they could expect the
return of their companions. There were times when the boys worked their
way along the shore, or, with Zeke in supreme command, used the one skiff
that remained They did not, however, venture far in the little boat
because they were compelled to tow it back one or two of the boys
remaining in the boat, while their companions dragged it along the rocky
or projecting shore. It was easier when they first dragged the boat up the
stream and then descended at a speed which in places outdid that of the
swiftest horse.

There were expeditions also to be made along the sides of the cliff, but
these were cautiously undertaken for Zeke was unduly fearful for his young
charges.

Fred most of all the members he specifically watched. He declared that
Fred "usually acted and then did his thinking afterward."

When night fell the boys assembled about the camp fire and occasionally
prevailed upon their gruff guide to relate some of his own experiences on
the desert or among the mountains.

"Yes," said Zeke one night in reply to a question by Fred, "I've had some
troubles with bad men. Over in Nevada there was a time when a gang of
robbers tried to waylay everybody that set out from Reno. It happened that
I was at Reno with my mother one time and I had to drive about forty miles
to my aunt's where she was going to visit. The houses out there aren't so
thick that anybody gets over-afraid of being crowded out or bein' bothered
by the neighbors. On the stretch where I was goin' there were three or
four shacks but I didn't find many choosin' that part of the country for a
dwellin' place."

"Did they have a good road?" inquired George.

"Fairly good. It was the only one that led over the mountains in that part
of the world. Well, I had my mother along, as I was sayin', and when we
had gone about eighteen miles from Reno, right in a narrow little gorge I
saw two men comin' toward us. They were in a buggy and I knew right away
from the looks of their horses that they could make good time. Besides,
when I saw the men I knew they were both strangers and, to tell the truth
I didn't like the way either one o' 'em acted.

"When they came pretty close to where we were I turned out to give them
most of the road for I didn't want any trouble as long as I had my mother
along. Perhaps I told you she was with me.

"Well, the first thing I knew the men all of a sudden swung over toward me
and before I knew what was going on they had locked their buggy wheel with
mine. They pretended to be mad, but I knew right away that this was a part
o' their game. It was worse than two to one for I not only had to fight
for myself, but for my mother. However, she is pretty game and she saw
what was up so she turned to me and said, said she, 'Zeke, you hand me the
reins and I'll look after the horses and you get out and help untangle
those wheels.' When I got out of the buggy both the men laughed and that
rather stirred me. 'You seem to be mighty easy to please,' I said. You see
I was younger then than I am now, and didn't have so much sense."

"Where did you get the new sense?" inquired Grant solemnly.

"Oh, once in a long time I run up against a fellow that come from the
East. He usually gave me all the advice I needed and never charged me a
cent for it either."

The boys laughed at Grant's confusion, but ignoring the interruption Zeke
continued with his tale, "I tried to appear unconcerned like and I said to
one of the men, 'Take hold here and give me a lift, I'm 'most afraid to
back down any further for fear I'll tip my mother out.' They didn't either
of 'em offer to help me, in fact neither one of them got out of the buggy
and when I took hold of my horse's head and tried to back away they just
moved up their horses so that the wheels kept locked just as they had been
before. I looked at the wheels and pretty quick I made up my mind that
mine were a good deal stronger than theirs. I had told my mother when I
took the reins that she had better get out while we were tryin' to break
loose there. Of course she did what I told her. I was afraid the men might
draw their guns, but still I thought maybe the fact that I had my mother
along with me might make 'em hesitate a little. There are mighty few men
even in the mines that will do anything to frighten a good woman, and
nobody had to look very long into my mother's face to make up his mind
that that was what she was, sure enough good.

"Well, we backed and filled for a spell and I see that things were gettin'
worse so I waited until we worked out away a few yards up a little rise on
the side of the mountain. The men all the while pretended that they
thought it was a joke, and then when I got just to the right place, quick
as a wink I jumped up and yelled at my horse in the loudest tones I could
muster, and when little Zeke really tries hard to make himself heard there
isn't usually much trouble in hearing him. I struck my horses with my whip
at the same time and all together we had considerable of a ruction, but it
turned out just as I thought it would. Their horses were scared worse than
mine and when they all four jumped ahead going in opposite directions, of
course something had to give way and it wasn't my wheels either, let me
tell you. I didn't wait to investigate how much damage I really had done,
but I put my horses into their best licks and stopped just long enough to
take in my poor, old, frightened mother, and then I didn't stop, let me
tell you, until I was out o' sight of those men."

"Did they try to chase you?"

"No, they didn't. I'm thinkin' they were having troubles enough of their
own just then. At all events I never see any more of them."

"Do you really believe they meant to rob you?" asked George.

"Sure, as you're born!" replied Zeke. "That was just what they were there
for. The only thing that saved me was my havin' my mother along. 'Twasn't
long afterward before I heard of a man being held up just as I was. Two
men came along in a buggy and locked wheels with him and while he was
trying to help himself out of the fix one of them dropped him with the
butt of his gun and went through his pockets and all his belongings.
That's one reason why I have always remembered Jump Off Joe Creek."

"Remembered what?" laughed Fred.

"Jump Off Joe Creek," repeated Zeke. "That was the name of the mountain
brook right near where I had my fight with the robbers."

"But I didn't see that you had any fight," persisted Fred.

"Not exactly a fight, but it's where I would have had a tough fight if it
hadn't been for me havin' my mother 'long with me. Perhaps I told you she
was in the buggy with me when those wheels locked."

"I believe you did remark something about that," said Fred so drolly that
his companions laughed.

"And you think," inquired Grant, "that we're likely to have trouble with
these two men the same way?"

"No, I didn't say 'the same way,'" replied Zeke. "I'm just tellin' you
what's going on 'round here so that you'll be a bit prepared for it when
the proper time comes."

"Do you really think we'll have any trouble with those two men?" inquired
George anxiously.

"I've given you my opinion," replied Zeke. "You won't have no trouble if
you don't find no claim, and if there ain't no claim then you won't have
no trouble. So it's just as broad as it is long, you see, and I'm hopeful
we'll get out again with our lives."

"Yes, I hope so too," said George so solemnly that his friends laughed
aloud.

Zeke's stories were as numerous as they were quaint after he had once
begun to relate them. To beguile the slowly moving hours the boys insisted
upon his recounting many of his adventures, some of which were exceedingly
thrilling, so thrilling indeed that none of the boys accepted them as
true.

But all things at last come to an end and the waiting of the Go Ahead Boys
was drawn to a close late one afternoon when Pete and John entered the
valley. They were heavily laden with packs and explained that up on the
cliff other possessions which they had secured had been left with the
Indian boy who had come with them and was to take back the burros after
they had been relieved of their burdens.

Speedily all the Go Ahead Boys were engaged in the task of bringing in the
supplies. Twice the difficult climb had to be made and even the return to
the camp, although the trail led down the steep incline at times, was even
more difficult than the ascent had been.

The same night after all the supplies had been brought to the camp and the
boys had begun to make up their packs, for they planned to start on their
expedition early the following morning, they were startled by the return
of the two Navajos who had visited the camp soon after the departure of
Pete and John. It was quickly manifest that both Indians in spite of their
quiet manner were keenly excited and when they had related a discovery
they had made that very day, the excitement of the Go Ahead Boys was only
less than their own.



CHAPTER IX

DOWN THE RUSHING RIVER


"We saw where the two white men camped last night," explained Thomas
Jefferson. "They are working' their way into Thorn's Gulch."

"And do you think they are looking for Simon Moultrie's claim the same as
we are?" demanded John, who was not fully aware of the events which had
occurred during his absence.

The Navajo smiled slightly and replied, "Yes, they both are trying to find
the place."

"Do you know where it is? Have you anything to show where he found the new
mine?"

"Not very much," replied the Indian.

His manner, however, impressed the Go Ahead Boys strongly that Thomas
Jefferson possessed information concerning the object of their search
which he was not willing to communicate.

The mystery surrounding the place had deepened. The fact that two white
men as well as two Indians, in addition to the Go Ahead Boys and their
guides, were convinced at the same time that the dead Simon Moultrie had
discovered a lead of great promise, increased their interest. Already Fred
and John had discussed what they would do with the fortune which they were
convinced soon would be theirs as soon as the claim of the dead prospector
had been located.

John and Pete, thoroughly wearied by their long journey for supplies, were
soon ready for bed. Their example was contagious and in view of the long
and difficult journey awaiting them on the morrow all the Go Ahead Boys
speedily followed their example.

Daylight had appeared, though the light of the rising sun had not yet
shone above the towering cliffs, when the guides were busily preparing
breakfast the next morning.

In spite of the prospect awaiting them the appetites of the Go Ahead Boys
were all keen and a hearty breakfast was disposed of before any one
suggested that the hour for their departure had arrived.

A few of their belongings were left behind, after they had been carefully
stowed away among the various cliffs and hidden from the sight of any
chance passerby. It was seven o'clock when at last Zeke declared the party
was ready to depart.

Every boy had his kit strapped upon his back in addition to the rifle
which he carried while Zeke led the way and Pete served as a rear guard.

Since the missing boat had not been recovered it had been decided to try
to make the journey overland. However, just as the party left the camp
Pete said decidedly, "I think this is all fool business."

"What do you mean?" demanded Fred, who was next before him.

"I think it's foolishness for all six of us to go overland when we have a
boat that will bring us within a few miles of Thorn's Gulch. Some of our
heaviest supplies can be taken that way, and, if we have to, Zeke and I
can make two trips from the place where we can land to the opening to
Thorn's Gulch. Hold on," he called to Zeke.

The little party abruptly halted and after Pete had warmly urged his views
Zeke reluctantly consented to a change in their plans. Pete, accompanied
by Fred and John were to return and use the boat as far as they were able
to make their way safely toward Thorn's Gulch. They would then land, draw
the boat up on the shore, where it would be safe from storms, and at once
start for the entrance of Thorn's Gulch where they were to await the
coming of their companions. Naturally it was expected that the party led
by Pete would arrive at the Gulch before the others. In that event Pete
was to select a camp and make such provisions as were in his power for
spending the second night.

Zeke had explained that he was not planning to rush his party across the
desert. Rather he explained he would move leisurely, finding some place
for rest and refuge in the middle of the day. In no place would he depart
far from the rim of the Grand Canyon. He was confident that even with
these expected delays he would easily arrive at their destination by
sunset of the second day.

The two Navajos had not been included in either party; the truth of the
matter being that neither Zeke nor Pete wanted the young Indians among his
followers.

The feeling of the boys, however, was markedly different, but they did not
make any objections, relying upon the need of assistance later to warrant
them in inviting Thomas Jefferson and his friend to become members of
their party at that time. Indeed Fred had expressed himself in this manner
to the Navajos, and Thomas Jefferson, indicating that he understood fully
the conditions, promised to report later after the party had entered
Thorn's Gulch.

There was no further delay and George and Grant following Zeke soon
disappeared from the sight of their companions.

Meanwhile Fred and John assisted Pete in packing in their boat the
supplies which they were to carry down the Colorado.

Both George and Grant had protested against their companions attempting
the passage of the river. They were aware of the perils that awaited them
and were fearful that they would not be able to land all their cargo
safely.

"That's the way of it," said Fred in mock solemnity when he had responded
to George's protest. "You don't care anything about us, but you're
mightily afraid that some of the things we have on board may be lost in
the river."

"We don't want to lose either the crew or the cargo," retorted George.

"There's no more danger going down the stream where we are than there is
in trying to climb the cliffs and strike out overland," declared Pete.

No further protest had been made and not long after the departure of the
division which was to climb the rugged pathway that led to the table-land
the sailors were ready to embark.

Fred and John were both skillful in handling the boat, a form of knowledge
in which even Grant was proficient. It was for this reason largely that
Pete had selected Fred and John to accompany him.

Before he stepped on board, John, who was to push at the stern, looked out
over the broad river. The current made in toward the shore where he was
standing and was clearly defined. The swift waters bore around a bend not
more than fifty yards below them. It is true that the passage here had
already been made and the boat hauled back, but the very fact that a
previous voyage had been tried although it allayed certain fears
nevertheless made both Go Ahead Boys aware of the places where peril would
confront them.

Pete was in the bow holding a long pole in his hands, while Fred was to
take his friend's place whenever the latter desired him to.

In a brief time the strong heavy skiff was caught in the sweep of the
channel and was borne swiftly down the rushing Colorado.

There was an excitement in the attempt that manifested itself clearly in
the faces of all three. At one place where for a brief time the waters
were stiller Pete turned to his fellow voyagers and shouted, "My, I must
say you're the two nerviest boys I ever see."

John and Fred stared blankly at each other at the compliment, neither in
fact having been unduly alarmed or suspecting that they were passing
through any unusual peril.

Twice the boat had been swept in close to a projecting ledge but
fortunately had escaped without any serious crash.

At the end of ten minutes the boys were aware that they were approaching
the place which they dreaded most of all in their descent. The river
became somewhat narrower here and the waters consequently were much
deeper. A shoal or some huge hidden ledge rose in mid-stream and the swift
current, divided by the obstacle, roared and sang as it rushed forward on
its way on either side. One hundred yards below the projecting rock the
divided channel was reunited. There was a great peril, however, that the
little boat, as it was driven forward by one part of the stream, might be
caught in the eddies that were formed when the waters united.

For a time the rocky shores seemed to be flying past the advancing boat.
Occasional glimpses of the sky far above them added to the picture. Before
them extended a long, narrow defile through which the deep water seethed
and boiled as it sped forward. The grave peril here was that the boat
might strike some of the projecting rocks or be grounded on one of the
hidden projections. It was impossible for any one to use his pole here
and Fred had passed the paddle to John while he himself insisted upon
taking his place in the bow and ordering Pete to seat himself amidship.

The boat was moving at least ten miles an hour. Two-thirds of the passage
had been safely made. The expression on Fred's face was tense as
occasionally he caught a glimpse behind him of his long friend working
desperately with his paddle.

Every ounce of strength each boy possessed was required for the effort.
Occasionally the guide shouted his direction first to one boy and then to
another and then to both alike. Neither Fred nor John, however gave much
heed to their advisor nor indeed was it possible for them to hear what he
said. The sound of the noisy water filled their ears, the peril of the
projecting rocks continued to face them and a glance at the dark colored
stream below was sufficient to warn them of dangers to be avoided there.

Fred, who, as has been said, was paddling from the bow turned for a moment
to glance back at John. At that moment, however, the heavy boat suddenly
struck an unseen rock. The force of the current was sufficient to drive
the boat safely over the place of peril, but Fred as he had nearly lost
his balance glanced again behind and to his horror he saw the long legs of
John disappearing over the side of the boat.



CHAPTER X

A RATTLER


Meanwhile the other party which had started for Thorn's Gulch was also
having its own experiences no less thrilling than the mishap which had
befallen John. Zeke was the leader of the trio while George had taken
Pete's place as rear guard.

Steadily climbing the way which previously they had used as a path,
stopping frequently for rest, for their breathing was somewhat more
difficult in the high altitude than on the lower levels, they at last
succeeded in gaining the crest of the canyon.

Zeke then led the way across the table-land, at times moving far from the
border and then again approaching almost within sight of the great canyon.
The Canyon of Arizona extends for hundreds of miles, becoming vast and
wide in what is commonly known as the Grand Canyon. It winds through the
country at times visible and sometimes concealed from sight by intervening
cliffs or trees.

Before the noon-hour arrived the party halted, seeking the shelter of a
small cleft in the rim where they were able to start a fire and cook some
of the food they had brought with them.

The heat was so intense that Zeke commanded the expedition to wait until
late in the afternoon before the journey was resumed. Although neither
George nor Grant acknowledged that he was tired, both Go Ahead Boys were
entirely willing to heed the advice that was given them.

Late in the afternoon the three explorers again resumed their journey. A
brief halt for supper was made, but soon afterward the boys once more were
following Zeke as he led the way in the moonlight. The air was cool now
and although the altitude was still high the boys found less difficulty in
breathing.

In a sheltered spot well known to Zeke a camp was pitched for the night
and soon after they had cast themselves upon their blankets all three were
soundly sleeping.

It was long before sunrise when Zeke's stentorian call summoned the boys
to the task of the coming day. It was with some difficulty that both young
prospectors responded. As soon, however, as breakfast had been prepared
and eaten, although it was still an hour before sunrise, they started once
more on their journey to Thorn's Gulch.

Steadily, monotonously they kept on their way, walking in single file and
in the same way which had been observed the preceding day.

It was not long after sunrise when Zeke suddenly jumped to one side
shouting to the boys as he did so to keep away.

Before either of them was aware of any peril Zeke drew his revolver and
fired several shots at an object in front of him, which as yet was unseen
by the boys.

"There!" shouted Zeke. "I guess that'll get you, you rascally varmint!" As
he spoke he seized his long knife and hurled it savagely. "How do you like
that?" he shouted, "I guess you won't do any more harm to anybody."

The curiosity of George and Grant had been so thoroughly aroused by the
strange calls and actions of their guide that in spite of his warning both
crept forward to see what had aroused his anger.

And both soon were aware of the cause. A few feet before them was a huge
rattlesnake still twisting and turning in its last agonies.

Zeke secured his knife, and again and again hurled the weapon at the snake
although now they were safe from any attack by the reptile. Its skin was
glossy and the dark folds had a certain beauty of their own. Both boys,
however, were unaware of the colors of the great snake. At last Zeke
succeeded in severing the body. In a moment he grasped the tail and flung
the part to which it was attached several yards away.

"Better count the rattles," he said.

"I don't want to touch the thing," said George with a shudder.

"The tail can't bite you," suggested Grant as he advanced boldly and
grasped the part of the body to which the rattles were attached and held
it up to view. It was still squirming somewhat and George turned away in
disgust. "I don't like snakes," he explained.

"I can't say that I'm very fond of them," said Grant, "but I think if you
don't want them, Pop, I'll take these rattles home with me."

"Did you count them?" demanded Zeke, who now approached the spot where the
boys were standing.

"Not yet," replied Grant. "I'll do it now."

There were thirteen rattles found in the snake and when Grant held them up
and shook them George was unable to repress the shudder that crept over
him.

"How was it, Zeke," he asked, turning to the guide, "did the fellow strike
at you?"

"No, I happened to see him moving across the rock. He's a big fellow. He
must be eight feet long," answered the guide.

"Aren't you afraid of them?" inquired George, shuddering again as he
spoke.

"Afraid? No. Why should I be afraid? They give you warning before they
strike and that's what the rattles are for."

"I wonder if that is what they are for," said Grant thoughtfully. "I don't
see why nature should have provided a snake with a means of scaring off
the animals he wants to get for his breakfast."

"That's what it is," said Zeke. "It can't be for nothin' else."

"I've heard it said that shaking the rattles had a strange effect on
certain animals. A canary bird sings and a rattler rattles. Perhaps they
both think they are improving the music of the spheres."

"Fine music!" snorted Zeke.

"I have heard it said that the snakes and owls and prairie dogs are great
friends," suggested Grant. "They all live together in the same hole."

"I don't know nothin' about their being friends," retorted Zeke. "I'm
thinkin' the prairie dog does most of the work any way you fix it. He's
the one that digs the hole, then along comes the snake and makes his home
in it, and then the owl creeps in and there you have it."

"I should think they would eat one another," laughed George.

"Maybe they do for all I know," said Zeke. "Now if you've had enough to
satisfy you with this rattler we'll start ahead again."

"But I don't see," persisted Grant, "why he didn't bite you."

"Huh!" snapped Zeke. "He didn't get a chance to coil himself. They are
just like a hair-spring. They have to get a little purchase before they
can do anything, then they do a good deal too, if they try real hard. I
don't like them, but I never do what a good many guides out here do."

"What's that?" asked Grant.

"Why, they're so afraid of rattlesnake bites that they keep loaded up with
whisky all the time. That's the best antidote for the snake bite and these
fellows must have been bitten about three times a day, most of them."

Zeke said no more and in a brief time all three were moving steadily
across the table-land.

Late in the afternoon Zeke stopped and pointed to a place far in the
distance, "Yonder is right near Thorn's Gulch," he explained. "We ought to
get there in about three hours."

"Three hours!" exclaimed George. "Why how far is it from here?"

"About eleven miles."

It was almost impossible for either of the boys to believe that the spot
to which Zeke had pointed was so far distant. The air was so clear that
the place appeared to be much nearer than it really was and if they had
been asked each boy would have stated his opinion that the intervening
distance could be covered within an hour.

"There are two ways now which we can take," explained Zeke.

"You mean we can take them both, or either of them?" laughed George.

Ignoring the question which the guide gruffly referred to as "smart," Zeke
explained that they could go down into the canyon a short distance in
advance of them and follow the course until they came to the entrance to
Thorn's Gulch.

"That will be about where John and Fred will come in, won't it?" inquired
Grant.

"I guess that's so," admitted Zeke. "Perhaps it will be better for us to
go down the slope and strike Thorn's Gulch from that side."

Accordingly the direction was changed and advancing toward a slope that
led to the valley below, the boys prepared to follow the lower course and
meet their friends at the opening where it had been agreed the meeting
should take place.

Each boy still carried upon his back the pack which had been placed there
when they had broken camp. The descent was consequently hampered somewhat
by the weight which rested upon their shoulders. Much of the way was
difficult and the three members of the party no longer were able to keep
closely together.

George, who still was the rear guard, steadily dropped behind his
companions until he was no longer able to discern them before him.

The way by which Zeke was leading now led along a side of the canyon where
the walking was increasingly difficult. The broken stone crumbled beneath
their feet and they were in constant danger of slipping or falling.

Aware that he had lost sight of his companions and was steadily falling
behind, George increased his pace, hoping to overtake his companions
within a few minutes.

In his zeal he approached nearer the edge of a ledge than he was aware.
Suddenly the broken stone gave way beneath his feet and in spite of his
efforts George was thrown from the ledge and began a swift descent on the
side of the cliff.

Fortunately the cliff-side was not as steep as in certain other places,
but the desperate boy was unable to check his flight.

He had given one wild call to his friends when first he had slipped over
the border. After that all his strength was required to prevent himself
from falling headlong.

In spite of his utmost endeavors his foothold soon became more insecure
and suddenly as the ground beneath him gave way George was thrown forward
on his face.

The heavy pack on his shoulders prevented him from rising or recovering
the ground he had lost. Rolling, slipping, sliding, the terrified boy
continued on his way down the side of the cliff.



CHAPTER XI

A PERILOUS FALL


Fortunately the side of the cliff down which George was slipping was not
sheer all the way. It was steep; indeed, so steep that it was impossible
for the frightened boy in spite of his desperate attempts to check his
flight, to gain a foothold. In his descent some of the loose ground gave
way and whenever he tried to seize a small projecting point that too fell
before him.

George was aware that far below him was the valley or bottom of the gulch.
There were possibilities that at any moment he might slide over some cliff
beneath which there was nothing to interfere with his fall to the ground
far below, a descent of at least two hundred feet.

George was amazed at the coolness with which his mind was working. Fully
aware of the peril confronting him, nevertheless he thought calmly of his
companions and the surprise they would experience when his absence was
discovered. If he fell to the bottom of the gulch doubtless they would
never learn the fate which had befallen him.

When he had gone about sixty feet down the cliff-side his progress
abruptly was halted when he came to a heavy projection of rock. Upon this
a stunted tree was growing close to the side of the mountain. Almost
instinctively George grasped this tree and his heart almost ceased to beat
when he found that his progress was effectively stopped. His first fear
was that the projection might give way under the force with which he had
struck it. For a moment he simply clung to the trunk of the tree and
closed his eyes waiting for the crash to come.

When several moments had elapsed and he found that he was still safe he
opened his eyes and looked all about him. Above him he could see the marks
that indicated the trail he had followed in his descent. It was, however,
almost impossible for him to retrace his way. He was now painfully aware
that he had severely bruised his left leg in his fall. Otherwise he was
not seriously hurt as far as he was able to ascertain. It would be
difficult, if not entirely impossible for him, in the condition in which
he now found himself, to make his way up the sloping side of the cliff,
while to slip or fall would be fatal.

Rejoicing at his narrow escape George seated himself with his back
against the side of the mountain as far as it was possible for him to move
along the edge of the rocky shelf. His first feeling of rejoicing at his
narrow escape soon gave way to anxiety. He had been so far behind Zeke
when he had fallen that he was doubtful now that his absence would be
discovered until Grant and the guide had gone a considerable distance
ahead. And when his disappearance should be discovered his companions
would have no knowledge where to begin their search.

Keenly excited, he shouted in his loudest tones, "Grant! Grant!"

Not even an echo greeted his prolonged appeal. He shouted again and again,
but it soon was plain to him that he had not made himself heard.

Thoroughly alarmed now he was almost ready to attempt the perilous ascent,
having decided that it was better for him to do so while he was still
strong and before his leg should become helpless.

A glance toward the border of the cliff, however, was terrifying. So high
was it above the gulch below that his peril was great.

Almost in an agony of fear he renewed his shouts and though he waited
anxiously after every appeal there was no answer to his calls.

It was impossible for him to estimate the time that was passing. The
slowly moving minutes seemed to the Go Ahead Boy almost like hours. There
were moments when it seemed to the terrified boy that he must let go his
hold upon his insecure protection. He had passed his left arm around the
trunk of the small tree and it was not difficult for him to maintain his
position.

Again he renewed his frantic appeals, the thought having come to him that
Grant and the guide might retrace their way and at some place hear his
calls for help.

As a matter of fact less than an hour had elapsed when at last George was
startled by the sound of a voice directly above him. Peering over the
border was a face which he soon discovered was that of Thomas Jefferson,
the young Navajo Indian who with his companion had previously come to
their camp. Plainly the young Indian had heard the cry and was striving to
discover the source from which it had come.

Once more George shouted, this time almost hoarse from his efforts. An
answering call, however, revealed the fact that the Navajo had discovered
him. Indeed it was possible now for him to hear the words of the Indian.

"Stay right where you are," called Thomas Jefferson. "Don't try to do
anything for yourself."

The face disappeared from the border of the cliff and anxiously George
waited to discover what means would be used for his rescue. That he would
be left in his predicament he was convinced was not to be thought of.

Nevertheless the anxious boy became troubled when a time that seemed to
him inordinately long passed and still no word was heard from above him.
Almost frantic he was about to renew his shouts when he discovered the
Navajo crawling over the edge and slowly and cautiously descending the
sloping side of the cliff.

Almost fascinated by the sight George watched every movement. The
moccasin-clad feet of the Navajo did not once fail to find a secure hold.
Almost like the rattler which had been killed that morning he crawled and
squirmed, steadily making his way toward the place where George was
awaiting his coming.

Abruptly a new fear seized upon the Go Ahead Boy. If Thomas Jefferson
should succeed in gaining the place where he was awaiting his coming,
would the shelf be sufficiently strong to support the weight of both? The
suggestion was alarming and the perspiration stood out on George's
forehead as he thought of the new danger.

He was aware now that under the shoulders of the Navajo there was a lariat
made fast and that this was being paid out from above as he slowly
descended.

It was evident now that Thomas Jefferson's companion was above the gulch
and that he was assisting in the descent of his companion.

In the nervous condition in which George now found himself a thousand new
fears possessed him. Perhaps the lariat would not be long enough. As
Thomas Jefferson proceeded, his foot might slip and his entire weight be
thrown upon the slender rope or strap. Even if the Indian should succeed
in attaining the shelf where George was standing, would the slender strip
of leather be strong enough to support the weight of both?

Meanwhile, as if he were devoid of all fear, the young Navajo slowly and
steadily continued his descent. He was not more than fifteen feet from the
boy whom he was seeking to rescue, when, with his foot braced against a
small projection and the lariat clasped tightly in his hands, he paused as
he said, "Don't be scared. Just keep hold of that tree and you'll be all
right."

As soon as he had spoken, the descent was renewed and in a brief time the
Navajo had taken his place beside George.

"Look out!" warned George, his voice trembling as he spoke. "I'm afraid
this tree isn't strong enough to hold both of us. I don't think the shelf
is, either."

The peril was so great and the fear of George so keen that for a moment he
trembled violently. The Navajo, however, quickly passed his arm under that
of the trembling boy and said soothingly, "There's no need to be scared.
This place is plenty strong to hold us both. Just be careful and do what I
say."

As he spoke Thomas Jefferson removed the noose from beneath his arms and
placed it under the arms of the frightened boy.

"You get hold," he explained.

"I'm afraid I can't help very much," said George. "I've hurt my leg."

The Indian made a hasty examination and then shaking his head said, "Not
much hurt. You can climb all right."

"When shall we start?" demanded George.

"As soon as you're ready."

"I'm more ready now than I shall be later, I suspect," said George
ruefully. "It's the only thing to be done, and, if it is, why, the sooner
I begin it the better."

Carefully George turned and lying against the ground looked up at the
border of the cliff. "Is the rope strong enough to hold us both?" he
asked, turning again to the Indian.

"Plenty strong," replied Thomas Jefferson. "I shall not take hold. You'll
have it all."

"How then will you get up there?" demanded George, aghast at the
suggestion.

"I shall climb. It's not new work for me. I shall be close behind you so
that if you fall I may help."

"If I fall or the lariat breaks," declared George, "there will be no
stopping me. Both of us will go straight to the bottom of the gulch."

"Look up all the time," suggested the Indian. "Don't once look behind you.
You need not fear for me for I have no fear for myself. Besides Kitoni is
very strong. He has taken a purchase around a tree and the rope cannot
slip. You are perfectly safe."

"Shall I try to climb by using the rope or shall I dig in my fingers and
toes and try that way?"

"Don't pull on the rope too much," answered the Navajo. "There will be
places where you may have to do that. It will be safe to do so for Kitoni
will take in all slack, but it will be better if you try to climb."

"Here goes then," said George in a low voice as he turned and began the
perilous ascent.



CHAPTER XII

A WRECK


John was an expert swimmer but his skill was not of much avail when he
plunged headlong into the rushing waters of the Colorado. The boat was
moving swiftly when he met with his accident and it was impossible for the
Go Ahead Boy to retrace his course and swim directly toward the shore.

The horror of Fred and Pete when they saw the long legs of John just
disappearing beneath the surface of the river may well be imagined. It was
impossible for them to check the speed of the boat and equally impossible
to change its course. Almost as helpless as if it had been a chip it was
carried forward by the swift current.

"He's going faster than we are," said Fred in a low voice as he discovered
the head of his friend several yards in advance of the skiff.

"Then he must be swimming," said Pete. "Is he a good swimmer?"

"I never saw a better," replied Fred, not once turning away his eyes from
the sight of John. "He has the Australian crawl and all the fancy
strokes."

"I don't know nothin' about them crawls," answered Pete, "but he's
swimmin' like a duck. He'll reach that point below us long before we get
there."

The guide's surmise was correct for John was exerting himself strongly to
gain a low point which he had seen in the distance and around which the
swift waters of the current were swept forward.

Before the conversation in the boat was renewed both the guide and Fred
were aware that John had succeeded in his attempt.

He had gained the low lying shore, but in his efforts to rise, although
the water where he was standing did not come above his waist, he several
times was thrown back into the stream and once nearly lost his foothold.

However, at last the sturdy lad succeeded in gaining the shore. As soon as
he had shaken the water from his head he turned to look in the direction
from which the skiff was coming. The boat now was not more than one
hundred feet away.

"Come in here! Stop here!" shouted John in his loudest tones.

Whether or not his words were heard he saw that his friends were doing
their utmost to follow his directions. Still borne onward by the rushing
current they nevertheless succeeded in gaining the outer edge and when the
sharp bend around the point was made they came sufficiently near the shore
to enable Pete with the painter in his hand to leap into the shallow
water.

Although the guide braced himself strongly and exerted all his strength,
his attempt would have failed, if John, instantly aware of the predicament
of his companion, had not leaped to his aid. While Pete was struggling and
striving to regain a firm standing John seized the painter and as he was
braced for the sudden strain he succeeded in checking the speed of the
boat and drawing it within the more sheltered waters of the little bay.

Meanwhile Pete had succeeded in grasping the gunwale of the skiff and
promptly shouted, "Run her up on the beach, boys! One, two, three! Now
then, all together!"

By their united efforts they succeeded in bringing the boat up on the
shore to a place where it was not in danger of being swept away by the
swiftly flowing river.

"That's what I call a close call," exclaimed Fred with a sigh of relief,
when at last he was certain not only that his friend was safe but that
all the cargo and the skiff itself had been landed. "What happened to
you?" he inquired of John.

"I didn't have time to find out very much," replied John demurely. "I lost
my balance and the first thing I knew I was making as graceful a dive as
ever you saw. I went up like a rocket."

"You looked very much like a rocket," sniffed Pete. "We saw your long legs
hanging down and thought that something must have pulled you out of the
boat."

"Something did," replied John dryly.

"What was it?" demanded Pete.

"The force of gravitation. I had all I could do to make this shore, let me
tell you. I had on sneakers and I put in my best work, for I wanted to get
on this side of the channel. At first I thought I was not going to make it
but I did at last and here I am."

"Are you hurt any?" asked Fred.

"Hurt? No. I'm as sound as I was when we started."

"You may be as sound," laughed Fred, relieved now by the assurance that
John was not injured, "but you're a woe-be-gone looking specimen. I think
even you would laugh, String, if you could see yourself. You're like the
definition of a line that Mr. Strong gave us in mathematics. You're the
shortest distance between two points, a length without breadth or
thickness."

"I've heard those words before," said John sharply. "I wish somebody could
get up something new if he wants to make remarks concerning my physique.
I'm not the one to blame if it doesn't suit you."

"Nobody blames you, Johnnie," laughed Fred. "We're just trying to face the
cold facts."

"That's what I'm trying to do too," said John demurely. "I had in my
pocket a copy we made, or at least what we thought was a copy, of the
records from old Simon Moultrie's diary and they are gone now."

"Are you sure?" asked Fred, startled by the unexpected statement.

"Yes, I'm sure," replied John, turning the pockets inside out as he spoke.
"I put them right in here," he explained as he placed his hand upon one
pocket.

"I guess there won't be a great deal of harm done," spoke up Pete. "It was
all done from memory anyway, at least that's what I understood you to
say."

"That's right, it was," said John, "but if you have a piece of paper in
your pocket, Fred let me have it and I'll write it out again. I'll do it
now. It will be easier and safer to fix it up before we start than it
will to let it all get dim in our minds."

Accordingly John took the diary which Fred handed him and tearing a leaf
from the back of it at once proceeded to draw from memory an outline of
the picture in Simon Moultrie's diary. To this he added the puzzling
directions which they had found indicated near the stake. "I think we're
all right," he said with satisfaction as he glanced at the drawing he had
made.

"There's one thing about it," said Pete, "it won't do no harm. Now then,
if you're rested, I think we'd better start on, only I think I'll chain
your long legs to the boat so that if you decide to leave us the way you
did before, we can haul you in the same as we would an anchor."

"You won't have to haul me in," retorted John. "I'm going to stay by you
this time."

"See that you do," said Pete sharply.

In a brief time the boat had been pushed out once more into the stream and
again the three passengers with their poles had taken their stations and
were prepared to do their utmost to guide the course down the river.

For a considerable distance the waters were not so turbulent as they had
been farther up the stream. Occasional rocks were passed and several times
the points rising almost to the surface of the river were discovered.
However, the current was so strong that it carried the boat safely around
the threatening danger, and almost with the speed of a race horse the
little party again turned down the stream.

It was not long before the spot which Pete had declared was to be their
landing-place was seen before them. Here there was no great difficulty in
gaining the shore and in a brief time the three passengers and the skiff
were safely on the bank.

"What shall we do with the skiff?" inquired John after the cargo had been
unloaded.

"We'll leave it here and let some one else take it up the stream or use it
if he goes down. I think it will carry clear to the Gulf of California if
he wants to try it."

"How about that map, String?" demanded Fred as he turned again to his tall
companion.

"Right in my pocket," declared John promptly, "and dry too. I told you I
was not going overboard this time, and I kept my promise, didn't I?"

"You certainly did," laughed Fred. "Now, then, what are we to do next?" he
added, turning to the guide as he spoke.

Pete, however, did not reply. He had advanced several yards up the shore
and was drawing from the loose soil several pieces that evidently were
parts of a boat that had been wrecked.

"Do you see those?" he inquired, holding up some of the parts he had
found.

"Yes," answered Fred. "It looks as if a boat had been wrecked down here,
doesn't it?"

"It was 'wrecked' all right," answered Pete, "but I'm wondering if either
of you boys knows what boat it was?"

"What boat was it?" inquired John, advancing to the place where the guide
was standing.

"It's our lost skiff," replied Pete.

"What!"

"It's just as I'm tellin' you," Pete repeated. "That skiff we lost the
other night didn't get loose. It was taken by somebody who knew what he
was doing and brought down here. Here's where the party landed," he added,
as he pointed to the shore. "But the boat wasn't 'wrecked,' unless you
call smashing it wrecking it."

"What do you mean? How do you know?" demanded Fred in keen excitement.

"I know because I can see with both eyes," replied Pete sharply. "I don't
have to have it all written out for me when I see what's happened to that
boat."

"Why should anybody want to wreck it?" inquired Fred.

"It might be safer for some people if they started down the stream from
here not to have any boats around that could follow."

"Do you think those two men who were in our camp took the boat?" Fred
inquired abruptly.

"That's exactly what I think. And I think too," the guide added as he
stopped to examine other parts of the boat, "that this skiff was wrecked
as well as smashed. There's a hole stove in the bottom and then there are
places that have been cut by an axe so I guess both parts of the story are
true."

"Do you suppose they went up Thorn's Gulch from here?" asked Fred in a low
voice.

"That's just what I think they did," replied Pete.

"Do you think we may meet them somewhere in the Gulch?"

"I shouldn't be a bit surprised."

"Then we may have pretty serious trouble before we're done."

"Right you are," assented Pete. "But it's time for us to be moving, boys,"
he added. "Here, I'll help each of you with his pack and we'll start out.
If those two men are ahead of us we'll know it before they know that we're
following them."



CHAPTER XIII

ALONE IN THE CANYON


For a considerable distance the way along which the guide was leading was
not difficult. The footing was fairly strong and there were not many
obstacles to be met.

Both boys in spite of the exciting experiences of the morning were deeply
interested in the marvelous sights which greeted them as they advanced
into the gulch.

On the sides of the canyon layers of rock and earth of different colors
were plainly to be seen. Occasionally there were strange formations that
extended from the rim of the cliff to the bottom of the valley that were
like huge buttresses fashioned by the hands of men.

"Look at that!" exclaimed Fred, calling the attention of John to one of
these peculiar formations. "That looks exactly as if it had been cut out
by a mason."

"It certainly does," acknowledged John, stopping and gazing at the
interesting sight. "Indeed, if we had this place back east," he continued,
"it would not be difficult to make some people believe that it had been
especially designed so that they could charge a dime a head to come in to
see it. What do you suppose Coney Island would do with the Grand Canyon?"

"I guess Coney Island, if it had the Grand Canyon, would hide in some
little corner. You wouldn't see much of the Island in a place like that."

Pete was not leading his young charges at a rapid pace. In spite of the
fact that they were at the bottom of the gulch the altitude was still so
high that breathing was somewhat difficult.

They steadily continued on their way for two hours, making only occasional
stops. Then they halted for the midday rest and the preparation of the
luncheon which Pete at once began to get ready.

The fire was kindled under the lea of a projecting shelf of rock and soon
the odor of broiling bacon appealed strongly to the Go Ahead Boys, whose
appetites already needed no stimulant.

"This is the life!" exclaimed John a few minutes later when he and Fred
were seated on rocks under the shade of the over-hanging cliffs.

John was holding a strip of broiled bacon on the end of the stick which he
grasped in one hand, while with the other he was holding a huge piece of
johnny-cake, in the making of which Pete was an expert.

"We couldn't find anything better than this," responded Fred, "even after
we have dug out our mine. I wonder what we'll do with all the money we'll
get."

"I know what I shall do with mine," laughed John.

"What?"

"Spend it in carfare coming out to the Colorado River. I would like
nothing better than to start in where the Green and Grand Rivers join and
try to do what Major Powell did. Indeed, I would like to go clear through
to the lower part of the Gulf of California."

"You don't want very much, do you?" laughed Fred.

"Not very much," retorted John. "This simple life appeals to me all
right."

"You certainly looked simple this morning when you disappeared in the
river."

"You mean I looked simple _before_ I disappeared," retorted John. "I don't
know what I can do to make you more careful in your use of the English
language. You certainly did not see me _after_ I disappeared."

"We certainly did," retorted Fred. "I saw your head away down the stream
though your feet weren't very far in front of the boat. You were going
like mad."

"I don't deserve any credit for that," laughed John as he extended his
stick for more bacon.

"Did you notice how many branches there are to this gulch?" inquired John
as he resumed his repast. "I've counted four or five canyons that open
into the right side of this gulch and I guess there are as many on the
other side although I can't see."

"Yes, it's all broken up," acknowledged Fred as he looked in the direction
indicated by his companion. "It's a mighty interesting place."

"That's no news," laughed John. "Where are you going?"

Fred had arisen and throwing his gun over his shoulder he had started
toward one of the canyons that opened on the opposite side of the great
gulch.

"Where are you going?" called out Pete sharply as he discovered the action
of the Go Ahead Boy.

"Not very far," replied Fred.

"You had better not," warned Pete. "Look out for snakes."

Fred stopped abruptly at the reference to the reptiles, but as John
laughed loudly he decided to continue on his way. "Come along, Jack," Fred
called.

"Nay verily, not so. I've had all the hike I want to-day."

Fred laughed and made no further response. Without waiting for his friend
to join him he turned into the canyon and in a few minutes was unable to
see the camping place which he had left behind him.

Fred, who had a keen eye for color, was examining the marvelous shades
that were to be seen along the sides of the canyon. Rock and soil were
clearly distinguished and the comparison which John had made the preceding
day, when he had said that the sides of the canyon looked like a great
piece of layer-cake, caused Fred to smile at the recollection.

He stopped abruptly when for a moment he fancied he saw a huge living
creature behind a sage bush a few yards before him. Pete had related many
stories of the savage mountain lion and the peril of encounters which he
had with the savage beasts. Since he had started, the fiercest animal Fred
had seen had been the noisy little coyote. After night fall the sly,
little beasts often came within sound of the camp and their weird barks or
cries made the silence of the night appear even more intense. Of bears
Fred had not seen one. Pete had related the story of the fate which had
befallen a friend of his who, making his way through the forest one day
had jumped upon a log which appeared in his pathway and without any delay
then had leaped down upon the ground before him. The "ground" however, had
proved to be a she-bear with her two cubs nearby. "They found only the
bones of poor Jim Hyde," Pete had remarked at the end of the story.

"I don't see how you know that Jim jumped upon a log," suggested John when
the guide's story had been told.

"That was easy," declared Pete. "We saw the prints of his feet leading
right up to the log and marks where he stood on the top and then over on
the other side there was nothing but the bones of the poor fellow."

Fred recalled the somewhat gruesome tale as he entered further within the
shades of the canyon.

The sight, however, was so fascinating that he still continued on his way.
The vivid coloring of the sides seemed to be more marked most of the way
just a little in advance. Led on by the continued hope of discovering some
place of special beauty, Fred was astonished when at last he looked at his
watch and saw that more than an hour had elapsed since he had left his
friends.

The Go Ahead Boy was less interested in the sights which greeted him on
his return than when he at first entered the canyon. Occasionally he
stopped before some sight that was unusually impressive, but he was eager
to retrace his way for he was aware that the guide would soon want to
resume their journey.

When he came nearer the place he was seeking, Fred's thoughts were turned
once more to the mine for which the search was to be made. At the thought
his eagerness again increased and he began to walk more rapidly.

It was strange that he did not discover the place before him where his
friends were awaiting his coming. He steadily continued on his way,
walking occasionally with increased speed.

At last really puzzled by his failure to discover the camp he stopped and
looked keenly about him in all directions. Why was it that he had not
found the place where they had stopped for their noonday meal? Indeed, as
he now looked about him on all sides he failed to recognize the region.

There was a sinking of Fred's heart and yet the boy refused to believe
that he had lost his way or that he was really in peril. There were many
small canyons or gulches, as has been said, which opened into the larger
gulch. Into several of these Fred entered, hoping to discover something
that would convince him that he was moving in the right direction.

His alarm increased, however, when he soon discovered that he was moving
through a region that was entirely unknown. Not a familiar object was to
be seen.

The fear in his heart deepened and again the troubled boy stopped to look
keenly about him.

As Fred tried to obtain his bearings his confusion apparently increased.
The stream in the bottom of the gulch was wider than the one he had seen
in the first part of his journey. He peered in one direction in his search
for landmarks only to fail and then turn and try the same experiment in
another gulch. All his efforts were alike unavailing and a great fear now
welled up in the heart of the troubled boy.

He looked up to the rim and saw the passing clouds that seemed to be close
to the ground. There was no help to be found from that direction and
suddenly he laughed aloud as he thought of his rifle. He would fire the
gun and as soon as he heard the response of John he would know in which
direction to move.

Accordingly he discharged his gun and then as there was no immediate
response, he waited in suspense until he was convinced that no answering
report had been given. Again he fired and once more he waited for the
answering shot. No answer, however, was given and now thoroughly alarmed
Fred again turned and retraced his way.



CHAPTER XIV

CLIMBING


After he had advanced several hundred yards Fred was by no means certain
that he really was retracing his way. Either he was greatly confused or
the places by which he was passing were strange.

By this time the Go Ahead Boy was thoroughly alarmed. The thought of being
lost in Thorn's Gulch, or in some one of the myriad branches of the
majestic chasm that extended for hundreds of miles in the course of the
mighty Colorado, was alarming. Fred had a momentary glimpse of his home.
He even pictured to himself what would occur there when the report was
brought that he had been lost in one of the canyons. Doubtless his three
friends would tell how they had searched for days and perhaps weeks, and
with all their efforts had been unable to find any trace of his presence.

Finding almost a pleasure in his picture of misery, Fred nevertheless was
aware that, unless he aroused himself at once, all the horrors of which
he had dreamed might become a terrible reality.

Stepping within the shadow of a great cliff he did his utmost to be calm
and try to think out what his problem was. He pictured to himself the
sights of Thorn's Gulch through which he and John had been led several
miles by the guide. Closing his eyes he endeavored to fix accurately in
his mind the direction in which Thorn's Gulch extended.

Having satisfied himself as to this he next tried to think of the angles
in which the various branches extended. As he recalled his own actions it
seemed to him that he had gone in a half-dozen different directions. It
was therefore now well nigh impossible to fix accurately the direction in
which he ought to move.

Again he looked keenly all about him, trying to find his bearings.

At last he turned back over part of the way by which he had come. At times
the frightened boy ran swiftly and then frequently stopped to glance at
the sky far above the rim of the canyon. More and more his mind became
confused and in his terror he increased the speed at which he was running.

Soon breathless from his endeavors, he was compelled to halt and once more
he did his utmost to calm himself. He recalled the time which had elapsed
since he had left his friends. Glancing at his watch he saw that more than
two hours had passed and that now it was late in the afternoon.

Darkness would soon be at hand and would come suddenly when it arrived.
Already Fred fancied he could feel the chill of the night air. He had no
food anywhere about him and visions of hunger increased the suffering of
the troubled boy. Besides he was afraid of what might occur in the hours
of darkness.

When at last night came Fred had not found his way back to the spot where
he had left his friends so many hours before. He was convinced now that he
would be compelled to pass the night alone in the canyon. Whether or not
he ever would be able to escape from the gulch was more than a question in
his mind.

Chilled and hungry as well as alarmed, Fred did not dare look for a place
where he might sleep. In the darkness it would be impossible for him to
tell whether or not rattlesnakes were near or the eyes of some prowling
beast might already be fixed upon him.

It was a night of agony. How the long and weary hours at last passed Fred
had no conception. There were times when he felt numb as if all power of
sensation had entirely left his body. Again he tried resolutely to assure
himself that safety would come with the morning light and that soon either
he would find his friends or they would discover him. Somehow he was
convinced that neither Pete nor John would search together for him. It was
likely also that one of them would remain in the spot from which Fred had
started so that if the lost boy in some way should be able to make his way
back he would not be tempted to depart again under the impression that his
friends already were gone.

When at last the morning came, almost with the suddenness with which
darkness had fallen upon the canyon, Fred's spirits revived in a measure.

Above the rim of the great gulch he saw a huge bird circling high in the
air. He was unable to determine whether or not the bird was an eagle but
it certainly reminded him of one.

The sight of the circling bird recalled the emblem of his country,--the
majestic eagle. With what powerful wings the great birds had been endowed.
What wonderful and graceful sweeps they took in their encircling flights.
For a moment he almost envied the great bird he saw above him. If he too
had wings he might be able to escape from the place in which he was
practically imprisoned.

A moment later he was almost ashamed of his complaint. If the bird was
able to make its way not only up the canyon but also far above it why
should not a man be able at least to gain the rim?

The very fact that there were difficulties to be solved was what made the
work of a man worth while. The difference between a man and a lump of
earth was that one was living and was able to use his will and brain,
while the other was a clod always to remain a diminishing bit of the
surface of the earth.

"I'll be a man!" declared Fred resolutely. As he spoke he sprang to his
feet and drew his belt more closely about him. He recalled stories of Zeke
in which that worthy guide had explained that the feeling of hunger was
greatly assuaged by drawing one's belt more tightly.

Convinced that he had been helped already, Fred raised his rifle to his
shoulder and fired. He was eager to give some token to his friends if they
were nearby that he was not far away and in good condition.

He fired three shots, but no answering shot was heard.

For a moment he thought of the anxiety of John and the guide. The picture
of the distress of his friend was not inspiring and almost in desperation
Fred again raised his rifle and fired.

Still no response was made and the troubled boy was convinced that he was
indeed lost.

He was aware too that the lack of food and loss of sleep had combined to
make him weaker. He was still following the course of the stream but his
halts were longer and more frequent. Whenever he came to a steep place the
difficulty of climbing became more manifest.

And yet the determined boy did not abandon hope. Resolutely he continued
in his efforts and at times was surprised to find how rapidly he was
moving.

It was long since he had taken any thought of his surroundings. His sole
purpose now was to keep on until he should come to some place that would
enable him to gain the plateau above. Once there, he believed he would be
able to discover where he was and perhaps be able to find his friends.

He had no conception of distance or direction. He might be moving farther
and farther all the time from his companions, but there was nothing else
to be done and so he doggedly held to his purpose and continued on his
way.

He was convinced that he was steadily climbing all the time. The rim
appeared to be nearer and although the brook was not much below him its
swifter current indicated that it was passing over ground much higher
than it had been when Fred first had followed it.

Fred had been unable to obtain anything to eat. He had not seen any living
creatures except a few hideous and huge lizards and the birds which had
been flying far above the border of the canyon.

He now had approached a part of the canyon where the way appeared to be
much more open than before. For some strange reason which he was unable to
explain he had been able to follow what appeared to be almost a pathway.
Seldom had he been compelled to climb from rock to rock or make many
detours.

He was aware that far away was the steadily rising rim of the canyon from
which he had made his ascent. He saw the sloping side of the hill before
him which extended perhaps two hundred feet. On the opposite side of the
canyon the colored rocks took on very vivid tints but whether or not there
was a sheer fall on his side just beyond the portion he could see he was
unable to determine.

Suddenly Fred stopped and stared in amazement before him. For a moment he
was fearful that hunger and weariness had combined to make him see
visions. He pinched his arm to assure himself that he was awake. There was
no mistaking the object at which he was looking. At that very moment it
turned and he saw a man rise from the rocky side of the canyon and peer
eagerly down at the sloping border.

Fred's amazement increased when a moment later he discovered two objects
in the distance apparently crawling up the hillside. He stared blankly at
the sight but there was no escape from the impression he had first
received.

Three men were plainly before him. It was also evident to the Go Ahead Boy
a moment later that the one whom he had first discovered was assisting the
other two. He saw the long lariat or leather rope several times rise and
fall above the ground and then he was convinced that an accident had
occurred and that the two whom he saw slowly making their way up the side
of the mountain had been the victims. He was unable to determine whether
they were friends or foes, they were so far before him. He hesitated after
he had raised his gun to his shoulder to proclaim his presence by a shot,
and then lowered his rifle. A shot might startle the unsuspecting men who
were struggling to gain the rim and the report of his rifle might increase
their danger. At the same time, however, he began to advance more rapidly
and in a brief time was able to recognize the men whose actions he had
been so keenly watching.



CHAPTER XV

THE SEARCH


A strange feeling of excitement now possessed Fred. He already had
recognized George and a moment later was certain that the two Indians who
had entered their camp were the ones who now were assisting his friend.

Pushing forward as rapidly as he was able, Fred had not gone far before in
his loudest tones he shouted, "I'm coming! I'm coming!"

At the sound instantly all three of the persons he had seen turned and
looked blankly in the direction from which the unexpected hail had come.
For a moment Fred was startled for fear that the surprise might harm
George who might lose his grip on the steep and loose side of the gulch.
His one thought, however, had been that by the announcement of his coming
he might encourage all three to use their utmost endeavors until he should
arrive at the place where he might help the Indian.

His alarm, however, was unfounded. Fred, desperately fighting his feeling
of weariness and hunger, pushed forward rapidly on his way and was
greatly relieved when he saw that George and both Indians also were
renewing their efforts. Slowly and yet steadily George was making the
ascent. Occasionally he stopped for rest, but not once had he looked
behind him. The advice of Thomas Jefferson to look only above him when he
was climbing had been strictly followed.

It was nearly at the same time when Fred and George arrived at the place
on the brink of the canyon where Kitoni, the Indian, was standing. Each
boy was aware of the emotions that filled the heart of his friend. For a
moment they were both unable to speak and then Fred, whose tongue was
seldom silent long, said eagerly, while his eyes filled with tears, "You
must have had a close call, George."

"I did," replied George. "Somehow I slipped over the edge here and went
sliding down that incline. I tried to stop myself but I couldn't get any
brace or foothold until I came to the little shelf down there. That small
tree saved my life."

"Were you alone?" inquired Fred.

"Yes," replied George foolishly. "I must have dropped behind Grant and
Zeke. We were pretty well spread out here anyway."

"How long ago did it happen?"

"About fifty years, I should judge by my feelings," replied George dryly.
"I fancy it really was about an hour or two."

"Why didn't Grant and Zeke come back and look for you?"

"Perhaps they did. They may have passed the place without knowing that I
was anywhere near. But how is it that you are here alone? Where are String
and Pete?"

"That's what I don't know," said Fred.

"What do you mean?"

"Just what I say, I haven't the slightest idea where they are."

"Where did you leave them?"

"Way back near the entrance of Thorn's Gulch. We stopped in the middle of
the day yesterday and after we had eaten our luncheon I began to make some
investigations of my own. That's the last I've seen of either Pete or Jack
and besides I haven't had a mouthful to eat since yesterday noon."

"You haven't?" exclaimed George. "I'm afraid we can't do anything for you
until we find Grant and Zeke. They have most of the supplies. Let me get
into my pack and see what I've got."

George's pack which Thomas Jefferson had insisted upon taking when he
rescued the Go Ahead Boy was now opened but there was no food in it.

"There's nothing else to be done," said George, shaking his head.

"Yes, there is something to be done," said Fred tartly. "We've got to do
something. You don't know where Soc and Zeke are and I don't know where
String and Pete may be. We've got to find them."

"We'll find them," suggested Thomas Jefferson quickly.

Both young Indians had been silent during the conversation although they
were intensely interested in the conversation of the two boys.

"I shall go to look up the two who went ahead of you--" began Thomas
Jefferson.

"But they may have passed this place and gone in the other direction,"
interrupted George.

"I shall see," said the Navajo quietly. "I shall go in that direction and
Kitoni will go in the other looking for the other two."

"But he may not find them," suggested George quickly. "They probably
thought Fred was lost and they have been staying where they were when he
left them."

"We shall see," was the laconic reply of Thomas Jefferson.

"But what makes you think they will be where Fred left them?" demanded
George.

"I do not know," replied the Indian. "One may look and one may stay. If
they think he is lost one may stay in the camp so that he will know where
he is if he finds his way back to it. You must both stay right here where
you are," he added. "Do not move even if no one comes for a day and a
night. It is your only hope."

"Hi! Hi!" exclaimed George abruptly. "I've found something in my pack!
It's good to eat."

George, greatly alarmed for his friend, had renewed his search among his
belongings hoping to discover some food that might be prepared for the
hungry lad. Strips of bacon quickly were cut and the boys, in spite of
George's lameness and Fred's hunger, insisted upon making a fire and
cooking the food. They were eager for the Indians to begin their search
for their missing friends as speedily as possible.

It was not long before the two Navajos started on their expeditions,
Thomas Jefferson moving in the direction in which Grant and Zeke had gone,
while his companion retraced his way in the hope of discovering John and
the other guide.

It had been agreed that neither should remain away longer than the
following evening. If the Indians were not back in camp by that time it
was agreed that the meeting place which previously had been selected for
the two parties should be the spot which all should seek when they
returned with the lost members of the party.

It was also agreed that neither of the boys should try to withdraw from
the place where they then were. The overhanging ledge protected them from
the heat of the sun, and if they should be compelled to spend the night
there they would be safer from the attacks of any prowling beasts than
would likely be the case in a more open or exposed spot on the way they
had followed.

"George," said Fred when the light had faded and the silence that rested
over the great cliff was tense, "do you really think there's anything in
what the Navajo said?"

"What did he say?"

"Why, don't you remember that he said that whoever tried to come in here
to find the lost mine was certain to get into trouble? It seems to have
worked pretty well with us so far. I lost my way and you fell and bruised
your leg, to say nothing about trying to slide over the precipice and land
in the valley below."

"I guess what Thomas Jefferson said didn't make you lose your way,"
replied George.

"I know," acknowledged Fred thoughtfully. "But how do you account for it
that he should have said what he did and then before we get very far on
our way into the Gulch something happens to both of us and something may
have happened to John, to say nothing about Grant and Zeke."

"I guess you're tired and nervous, Pee Wee," said George, who was aware of
the feeling in the heart of his friend.

"Well, all I can say," declared Fred, "is that I hope there won't be
anything worse happen to us than has come already."

"Why should there be anything worse?"

"There shouldn't, that's just what I mean."

"Of course we've got a job ahead of us. It isn't any easy thing to locate
a valuable claim. If it was there wouldn't be anything in the copper, or
silver, or gold, or whatever the metal is that we want to get. That's why
men use gold for money. It's so scarce and so hard to find and then after
you have found it it's harder still to mine it. Hark," he added abruptly,
"it seems to me I heard somebody speak."

Both boys listened intently and a moment later Fred declared, "You're
right, Pop, there is somebody coming."

The sound of voices was faintly heard coming from the direction in which
Thomas Jefferson had gone in his search for Grant and Zeke.

The sound became steadily clearer and in a brief time the dim outlines of
the three approaching men were seen not far away.

"Hello, there!" called George.

"Hello, yourself!" came back the reply which both boys recognized at once
as the voice of their missing comrade, Grant. A few minutes later all
three arrived at the place where George and Fred were awaiting their
coming.

"You're a great fellow!" exclaimed Grant to George. "Why didn't you keep
up with us?"

"Why didn't you come back and look for me?" retorted George. "It's a great
idea that a man slips down the side of the canyon and almost falls over a
precipice and nobody cares enough about it even to stop and say good-by to
him."

"We did come back," explained Grant, "and then we decided that you must
have gone on again, so we turned back, then we stopped for we didn't know
what to do. That was just about the time when the Navajo caught up with us
and told us that you and Fred were back here together. He told us too
about Fred's wandering around the canyons trying to see if he too couldn't
get lost. According to Thomas Jefferson he came mighty near succeeding
too."

Fred did not reply although it was plain that his feeling of relief at the
return of Grant was as great as that of his companion.

The conversation speedily turned upon the exciting experiences through
which all three boys had passed that day. Zeke declared gruffly that there
wasn't one of them fit to be in the canyon. "I'm tellin' you," he said,
"this is no place for a kid or a tenderfoot. It's a man's job to work
one's way up this gulch, let me tell you, and we ought not to have any
infants along with us."

"We're not 'infants,'" spoke up Fred. "Except in the eyes of the law," he
added. "We're able to do the job and there isn't any one of us that's
trying to back out."

"No, I wish some of you would," growled Zeke. "What with your getting lost
and trying to slide over the edge of the Gulch there isn't much time to
look for any lost claim or find any prospect."

"How long do you think it will be before Jack and Pete come here?"
inquired Fred.

"Nobody knows," replied Zeke. "Maybe an hour, maybe a day, and maybe a
week and maybe never."



CHAPTER XVI

A STARTLING ARRIVAL


Whether the gruff words of the somewhat crusty guide cast a spell over the
boys or they themselves shared in the dark vision presented by him no one
knew. At all events silence soon rested over the little camp and in a
brief time all were asleep.

Now that Fred and George had been cared for and the immediate peril into
which they had fallen was gone a feeling of relief had come to the three
Go Ahead Boys. They were still anxious concerning their missing companion,
but their confidence in Pete and their knowledge that John was not likely
to incur any unnecessary risks, to say nothing of the search which Kitoni
was making, all combined to strengthen their hope that the missing Go
Ahead Boys would soon be with them.

When the light of the following morning appeared the camp was astir and
Zeke, who was awake before his young charges had opened their eyes, was
already preparing a simple breakfast. It had been difficult for him to
obtain wood with which to kindle the fire but after a diligent search in
the barren region where they had halted he at last obtained a sufficient
number of dead and dried branches that had fallen from the few trees on
the side of the canyon.

When breakfast had been prepared and eaten, the courage of the boys
promptly revived. Frequently each turned and looked far down the great
gulch, hoping to obtain a view of John or the absent guide, but as yet
nothing was seen to indicate that the young Navajo had found the missing
member of the party.

Already in the sunlight the air was Intensely warm. In the shade, however,
it was so cool that Fred declared an overcoat would not be uncomfortable.

"I'm getting in a hurry," he said.

"It won't do you any good if you be," said Zeke solemnly. "You'll have to
take things as they come."

"The trouble is they don't come," laughed Fred. "I want Pete and John
here."

"I guess you'll have to put up with those of us that haven't got lost or
tried to fall over the rocks," growled Zeke, his eyes twinkling as he
spoke. "Here's Thomas Jefferson," he added, "he'll help you pass the
time."

The Navajo had not passed the night near the spot which the boys had
selected. No one was aware whether he had departed to rejoin his friend or
had merely sought another resting place.

"They always show up about breakfast time," growled Zeke under his breath.
Nevertheless the guide at once prepared some food for the Indian who now
had rejoined the party.

"Did you see anything of our friends?" inquired Grant eagerly.

"I saw nothing," replied the Navajo. "I do not expect all people here to
be safe."

"Why not?" demanded George.

"I have explained already," replied the Indian. "This is no place for
white men. It belongs to the Indians, and the spirits of those who live
here do not love to have white men come. I have never heard of one who
tried to enter who did not have bad luck before long."

"Yes," laughed Fred, "but I have known people to have bad luck who never
heard of Thorn's Gulch."

"They may have bad luck without coming here," said Thomas Jefferson, "but
they are sure to have it if they do come."

"Why don't you go and help find your friend?" spoke up Zeke, addressing
the Navajo as he spoke.

"Kitoni will come."

"Do you think he will find John and Pete?" inquired Fred eagerly.

"He will find them," answered the Navajo. "It may take two days, it may
take more."

"Why I couldn't have been as many miles away as that," declared Fred.

"It's not the number of miles, it's the difficulty of finding the gulch
into which they have gone while they were looking for you."

"Do you think they separated?" asked Fred.

The Navajo nodded affirmatively, but did not speak.

"In course they separated," spoke up Zeke. "One looked for you and the
other stayed in camp so that you wouldn't be making any mistake when you
came back and passed the place."

"Thomas Jefferson," spoke up Grant, "why do you think the spirits of the
Indians live here in Thorn's Gulch?"

Whatever the opinion of the Navajo may have been he did not explain.
Indeed he did not even reply to the question. It was manifest that he
himself thoroughly believed in what he had said. Even his three years in
the Eastern school had not been sufficient to deprive him entirely of the
superstitions which he had inherited from his ancestors.

"Do you think we'll find that mining claim?" inquired George.

"I don't know," replied the Indian.

"But what do you think?" persisted George.

"I don't know," again said the red man.

Convinced that it was useless to attempt to obtain any opinion from the
young Indian, the boy ceased to question him.

Striving to possess their souls in patience they waited while the sun
climbed higher into the heavens and still its light did not betray any
signs of the coming of their missing friends. By turning and leaning a few
feet over the way, the three boys were able to see much farther into the
gulch behind them.

Patiently they kept watch but the slow minutes moved on and still John did
not come.

It was late in the afternoon when Grant suddenly sprang to his feet and
after gazing long and earnestly in the direction in which the guide was
looking, he said excitedly, "Zeke, isn't that two men coming up the
trail?"

"Yes," replied the guide shortly.

Instantly the three Go Ahead Boys were standing and peering excitedly in
the direction indicated by Grant.

"That can't be String and Pete," said George in a low voice. "They would
come from the other direction, wouldn't they, Zeke?"

"Yes," replied the guide abruptly.

"Then who are these men?"

"Not knowing, I can't tell you. I can say though that I hope you'll be
quiet and not forget that children are to be seen and not heard. In course
I mean if those two men come here, as I think they will."

The unexpected discovery of two men in the gulch was of itself startling.
Seldom had the foot of man trod these weary wastes. There was an air of
complete desolation that rested over the entire region. The discovery
therefore of two men coming along the side of the canyon and following the
way over which Zeke had gone was doubly surprising.

Conversation lagged while all four carefully watched the actions of the
approaching men.

Whoever the strangers might be it was evident that they were not entirely
unfamiliar with the region. They picked their way with confidence and made
surprisingly good time as they advanced.

When they had come within fifty yards of the place where the boys were
standing, Fred excitedly seized George by his arm and said, "Do you see
who those two men are?"

"Who are they?" asked George.

"They are the same two white men that came into our camp over on the
canyon."

"Is that so, Zeke?" demanded George in surprise as he turned to the guide.

"Yes," answered Zeke sharply. "Now see if you can keep from talking too
much."

In a brief time the two white men advanced to the camp. From their actions
it was apparent that they had not been aware of the presence of the young
prospectors. Their surprise consequently was as great as that of the Go
Ahead Boys.

When they entered the camp the long, livid scar on the cheek of the
smaller man convinced the boys that their visitors were indeed the same
men who previously had come to their camp and to whose actions they had
attributed the loss of the diary of Simon Moultrie, as well as the strange
disappearance of the second boat.

The visitors were the first to speak as the taller man said, "What are you
folks doing here?"

"Just now we're doing nothin'," replied Zeke brusquely. "Can't you see?"

"That's about the same job we've got," laughed the man with the scar.

"We've been busy enough," growled Zeke.

"Doing what, may I ask?" inquired the larger of the visitors.

"Oh, looking for a lost boat--"

"Nice place to look for a boat," replied the man with the scar as he
laughingly pointed to the desert wastes all about them.

"That makes no difference, we've found it just the same," declared Zeke.

For a moment the two white men stared blankly at him, and then both
laughed as one said, "If you don't mind I wish you'd tell us where you
found a boat up here."

"I didn't say it was up here," explained Zeke. "I said we'd found a boat
where the men who took it had smashed."

"How do you know it was smashed?" inquired the man with the scar.

"Tell him," said Zeke abruptly, turning to Fred, "I wasn't myself in the
party," he explained, "but this boy was and he knows all about it."

"Pete was the one who found the boat," exclaimed Fred, "but we all saw
it."

"We likewise also are looking for a lost diary," broke in Zeke.

"It's a nice place to look for that, too," said the man with the scar.

For a moment the two visitors looked keenly at each other while neither
spoke.

"I tell you," said Fred excitedly in a whisper to George, "they are both
bad men and I wish we were out of this."



CHAPTER XVII

A DEPARTURE BY NIGHT


"If only John and Pete were here," said Fred in a low voice to his
companions as they withdrew to the border of the camp.

"But they aren't here," laughed George, "and there isn't any use in
wasting any time crying over their absence."

"That's right," joined in Grant. "We're doing everything we can do to find
them, and if we don't find them it won't be our fault."

"Do you really think," demanded Fred, "that they won't be found?"

"No, I don't think anything of the kind," said Grant. "I'm very sure they
will be found. All I'm saying is that it's foolish to waste your time
lamenting over what can't be helped."

"I'm not crying," retorted Fred somewhat sharply.

"Yes, you are," rejoined his friend. "You're wailing over the fact that
John and Pete aren't here."

"Well, they aren't here, and that's one fact."

"If you cry about it, that's another. My mother told me there are only two
things a fellow never ought to worry about in this world."

"What are they?" inquired Fred interested at once.

"The things you can help and the things you can't. There isn't any use in
worrying over things you can change, for if you're able to change them,
stop worrying and get at them and make them different. If you can't
possibly change them, then all the worrying in the world won't do you any
good."

"I'm wondering," inquired Fired, turning as he spoke and glancing again at
their uninvited visitors, "if those men are planning to stay here."

"They certainly look the part now," said George in a low voice.

"What can we do to get rid of them?" asked Fred.

Grant shook his head as he said, "I don't want the contract myself of
getting rid of them. If you want to try it you're welcome."

"But I don't see," continued Fred, "why we're bound to take them in and
treat them as if they were our long lost brothers. I would a good deal
rather see John and Pete come marching into the camp."

"So would I," acknowledged Grant, "but they'll come when they're found
and not before. These fellows are here now and Zeke says it's the law of
the desert that a man who drops into your camp at nightfall is entitled to
share everything you have,--supplies, tents, beds and everything."

"Then I suppose we shall have to put up with it," said George somewhat
glumly. "I don't like the appearance of either one of them," he added as
again he glanced at the men who now were seated at one side of the camp.

Zeke, apparently was not paying any undue attention to either of the
visitors. He was busying himself in certain camp duties though it was
plain to his young friends that throughout his task he was keenly
observant of the actions of their unwelcome visitors.

Darkness now was creeping over the land and already outlines of the great
gulch were becoming confused with the clouds and the trees. It was almost
impossible to determine where the rim of the gulch was. The silence, too,
that rested over the region was almost oppressive. It was a silence more
intense than anything any of the Go Ahead Boys ever before had
experienced. Their difficulties were multiplied too by the arrival of the
two men whose bearing and actions certainly increased the probability that
Fred's statement concerning them that they were "bad men" was true.

The two visitors had eagerly accepted the supper which was given them and
then they did not indicate any desire to depart. They did not disturb
conditions nor did they strive to enter into conversation with the
campers. Occasionally Zeke or one of the boys had spoken to the men, but
otherwise they had mostly been left to their own devices.

When time for retiring had come and John and Pete had not come back nor
had any word been heard from the young Navajo who had gone in search of
them, even Zeke became somewhat serious when the boys spoke to him
concerning the failure of the other members of their party to join them.

"I'm thinking" Zeke remarked, "that Kitoni will be able to find 'em, that
is, if they're still in the land of the livin'."

"But don't you think they are?" demanded Fred, aghast.

"In course I think they are," said Zeke testily. "There wouldn't be no use
in tryin' to find 'em if they weren't."

"But Thomas Jefferson says this valley is a place where the spirits of the
dead Indians come and they don't like to be disturbed. He says that any
one who tries to come into this valley is certain to have trouble."

"I reckon we've had our share of trouble," growled Zeke, "and we haven't
got very far into the Gulch yet either, but I don't believe no red-skin
spirit has nothin' at all to do with it."

The guide's meaning, in spite of his failure to express himself, was clear
to his young companions and they strove to be content, although all three
were aware that Zeke was becoming increasingly uneasy over the continued
absence of John and Pete.

True to Grant's opinion the two strangers remained for the night at the
camp.

They had not expected to be invited nor had Zeke or any of the Go Ahead
Boys bidden them go on. It was taken as a matter of course that they would
be permitted to share the camp which they had found in the desert region.

"We've had a hard time," murmured Grant when at last the boys were
preparing for the night. "It's been one thing after another. We've lost a
boat, lost Simon Moultrie's diary, lost John and Pete, and I'm not sure
that we haven't lost a good deal more by having these two tough-looking
men come here and join the band as they have."

"Why don't you keep watch on them to-night?" suggested George.

"Because that's one of the two things I can't worry about," replied Grant
demurely. "If they are going to shoot us I can't help it and if they
aren't then there's no need of lying awake nights."

In spite of the anxiety of the Go Ahead Boys not many minutes had elapsed
before all three were sleeping soundly.

Fred was utterly wearied by his efforts of the day and was the first to
close his eyes. George's bruised leg was annoying though not especially
painful, and it was not his suffering that caused him to lie awake long
after his friends were sleeping.

His accident had made the boy somewhat home-sick. Again and again visions
of his faraway home now arose before him and he was almost willing to
blame his father for permitting him to take this trip to the Grand Canyon
without older members of the family going with him. Indeed, the longer
George thought over the matter the more he was inclined to pity himself
and to blame some one else for his present misfortune.

He was well aware that there was nothing serious in the bruise he had
received and that in all probability within two or three days he would be
as well able to walk as ever he had been. But he was tired and anxious and
under such conditions his feelings naturally were somewhat depressed. At
last, however, George's eyes slowly closed and he too was asleep beside
his companions.

It was not so with Zeke, the guide, however. Without betraying his fear he
had been suspicious of the two men since they had first come to the camp.
Unknown to them he was mindful of their every act and frequently while he
was engaged in his tasks he listened and overheard parts of their
conversation which he was desirous of hearing.

Zeke had stretched himself upon the dry, warm ground near the Go Ahead
Boys, but it was long before sleep was to come to him. The slow moments
passed and nothing was heard to break the tense silence of the wonderful
region. Indeed, the silence itself was almost oppressive. It was George
who had declared that "the silence was something you could hear." Strange
as the expression is it is almost descriptive of the conditions under
which the Go Ahead Boys now found themselves.

Zeke, however, had little sentiment and in no way had been governed by the
feeling which had influenced the Go Ahead Boys. Although he was lying on
the ground and his breathing was deep and regular his eyes all the time
were sufficiently open to enable him to see what the men of whom he was
suspicious were doing.

The hours passed slowly, but none of Zeke's fears were confirmed.
Midnight came and the denseness of the silence became even more marked
than before.

Now, however, the suspicions of the guide were to be confirmed and his
fear proved not to be altogether groundless.

Zeke saw one of the white men suddenly and silently sit erect. While the
man was looking about him, Zeke's position was unchanged, but his little
eyes were peering out through half-opened eyelids and his right hand
suddenly had clutched the pistol which he carried in his belt night and
day.

The white man whom he was watching was the one whose face was scarred. For
several minutes he sat erect and motionless, until he plainly was
satisfied that all the other parties in the camp were asleep.

Then Zeke saw the man slowly rise. Even after he was standing erect he
still remained motionless.

Then apparently satisfied that no one in the camp was aware of his action
the man slowly and stealthily moved toward the border of the camp where
the packs carried by the boys had been deposited.

Glancing behind him once, the man, still apparently convinced that he was
not seen, stealthily drew one of the packs toward him and as soon as he
had grasped it at once started from the camp over the way by which he had
come.

Zeke now was fully awake. He too glanced keenly about him to satisfy
himself that the others were not aware of his actions. Apparently
satisfied that he had not been seen, he took his rifle and silently
followed in the direction in which the unwelcome guest had departed.

For some strange reason Fred also was aroused directly after the departure
of the guide, and somewhat startled, sat up. As he did so he saw the
taller white man slowly rise from the ground where he had been lying and
begin to move rapidly in the direction in which his comrade had
disappeared.



CHAPTER XVIII

RESTORING THE MAP


Fred was not aware of the departure of Zeke nor that he had followed the
first of the white men to leave the camp. As a consequence when he saw the
stranger rise and slowly walk from the place, he had not been disturbed by
any fear of mishaps. Indeed, he did not even look about the camp carefully
to ascertain whether or not the other man was still there. Apparently too
this man when he had gone had departed empty-handed.

For a brief time Fred hesitated, almost deciding to awaken his companions
and inform them of his discovery, but at last, convinced that such action
was unnecessary and still unaware that the guide also had gone, he once
more stretched himself upon the dry ground and soon was soundly sleeping.

He was aroused the following morning by Grant who was shaking him as he
shouted, "Wake up, Fred!"

"Is it time to get up?" yawned Fred sleepily.

"It's time for every one of us to be wide awake," declared Grant. "Do you
know what has become of Zeke and the two men that were here last night?"

"Have they gone? Aren't they here now?" demanded Fred at once thoroughly
awake.

"No, sir, there's not one of them here," replied Grant.

"That's strange," said Fred. "I waked up in the night and saw one of the
white men leaving the camp."

"Didn't you see the others?"

"No."

"Did the man take anything with him?"

"I didn't see that he did."

"Well, one of the packs is gone anyway."

"Then the other man must have taken it," said Fred positively. "I'm sure
the one I saw leaving didn't carry anything with him."

"He may have come back," suggested Grant.

"That's true," said Fred thoughtfully. "I hadn't thought of that. Thomas
Jefferson," he added as the young Navajo now approached the place where
the two Go Ahead Boys were standing, "what do you make of this?"

"All three gone," replied the Indian.

"We know that already," replied Fred sharply, "but we don't know where
they have gone nor why nor who. What time was it," he demanded of Grant,
"when you first found this out?"

"About ten minutes ago when I first waked up."

"I saw one of the men leaving," Fred explained, "but I haven't any idea
what time it was. It was in the night sometime."

"Did he go alone?" inquired the Indian.

"Yes," Fred answered.

"In which direction did he go?" asked the Navajo.

Fred pointed to his right and without a word the young Navajo instantly
ran to that side of the camp and began to inspect closely the footprints
of the men who had gone.

In a brief time he returned and said simply, "No two of the men went
together. The man with the scar went first. If the man you saw did not
have any pack then it was the short man that took it."

"How do you know they didn't go together?" inquired Grant.

"I can see their footprints. If they had gone together they would have
walked side by side or one would have been directly behind the other. That
is not the way it is."

"But how do you know that the scarred man went first?"

"Because I find a place where Zeke crossed over from one side of the way
to the other. He stepped in the footprint of the other man in one place.
Zeke's foot is bigger so I'm sure it was his print. He could not step on
the other's footprint unless he was behind him."

"But what makes you think that they both went before the man that Fred
saw?"

"Because that man did not have a pack. The pack is gone."

"But I don't see how that proves they went before. They may have left
after the other man."

The Navajo shook his head, however, and said, "They go first."

"What are we to do now?" demanded George as he joined his companions.

"The first thing we want is some breakfast and then we'll decide what next
to do," said Grant, who in spite of Fred's greater readiness to talk, now
naturally assumed the place of the leader of the three Go Ahead Boys.

At that moment, however, the Navajo again turned to the young campers and
said, "I'll go to find out where Zeke and the two men went. If I go you
three boys must stay here until I come back."

"But suppose you don't come back?" suggested Fred.

"I shall come," said the Navajo confidently.

"But suppose you don't?" said Fred again.

"If I do not come by to-morrow morning," explained Thomas Jefferson, "then
you will know that something has happened to me and you will go back if
you can find your way."

"Not much!" declared Fred. "If you don't come we shall try to find out
what has happened to you."

"No. No," said Thomas Jefferson abruptly. "But I shall come back."

"You're not going until after breakfast," suggested Grant quickly as the
Indian apparently was about to depart.

"I will get breakfast when I come back," said Thomas Jefferson
laconically.

Without any further conversation he at once departed, closely following
the footprints of the three whom he believed had gone before him.

"Well, what's to be done now?" inquired George after the three Go Ahead
Boys had remained silent while they watched the departing Navajo as long
as he remained within sight.

"We'll get breakfast," replied Grant.

For a time conversation ceased while the boys were busily engaged in the
preparation of their morning meal. In spite of the mystery surrounding
them and the anxiety that more or less every one felt, they were all
hungry. As a consequence the simple breakfast speedily was prepared and it
was not until it had been eaten that the boys once more turned to the
problem which now confronted them.

"I'm telling you," said Grant positively, "that Thomas Jefferson is all
right. The only thing for us to do is to stay right here where we are
until he comes back or John and Pete are brought here by Kitoni."

"I'm afraid something has happened to String," said Fred slowly.

"So you have said before," remarked Grant dryly. "Now the thing for you
and for us all to do is just to hang on to ourselves and wait. We mustn't
let this get on our nerves. If we do no one knows what we shall be up
against."

Grant's companions did their utmost to carry out his suggestion, but there
was little activity in which they could indulge and the time dragged
heavily on their hands.

"How far do you think we've come into Thorn's Gulch?" asked Fred when
several hours had elapsed.

"Six or eight miles," replied Grant promptly.

"Then we ought to be able to find our way out all right," said Fred.

"Of course we can," said Grant quietly, "though after we find our way out
we haven't gotten to the end of our troubles."

For a time the suggestion made all three boys silent and serious. They
were more than two thousand miles from home. One of their companions had
not been seen for many hours and in spite of what he was willing to
acknowledge every one of the Go Ahead Boys was now anxious concerning the
safety of the missing John.

Not even a guide was left them and the continued failure of Zeke to return
increased their fears.

Fred, the most easily discouraged of the Go Ahead Boys had been the most
eager of all to enter upon the expedition. It was plain to his comrades
now that his spirits were sinking and both were fearful of what the effect
would be if Fred entirely lost hope.

"I tell you what we'll do," suggested Grant at last. "We'll try to make a
copy of the map that Simon Moultrie had of the place where he had staked
his claim."

"We can't make any copy," said Fred disconsolately, "we haven't anything
to copy."

"Then we'll make it from memory," said Grant quietly. "Let me see," he
continued, as he took a note book from his pocket and at once began to
draw on a blank page. "Here's Thorn's Gulch," he added as he drew lines
to indicate the great canyon. "We have come about six miles so we'll put
our camp about here," he explained as he marked the location. "Now as I
remember, Simon Moultrie had marked Two Crow Tree on this side of the
Gulch and about so far from the place where the Gulch runs into the Grand
Canyon. Then about so much further on the same side of the Gulch was Tom's
Thumb. About half way between Two Crow Tree and Tom's Thumb on the other
side of the Gulch was Split Rock. Then a little to the right in back here
was the place he marked as the stake. Now, let me see, what were the
figures and the letters he had there?"

"The first one," said Fred interested now in what Grant was saying, "was
'1/2 m. n.e.'"

"That's right," said Grant, "and right below it was '1/4 m. s.e.'"

"And the last one at the bottom," joined in George, "was '1/4 m. n.n.e.'"

"There," Grant said with satisfaction as he held his drawing up for
inspection. "I think we have reproduced Simon Moultrie's map closely
enough to tell us about where we are and where we've got to go."

"Are we still going on?" inquired Fred.

"Of course we are going on," declared Grant. "We'll start just as soon as
the others join us. Look yonder!" he said, abruptly leaping to his feet
as he spoke and pointing to a distant spot on the side of the Gulch.
"There's something moving over there."



CHAPTER XIX

A JOYOUS RETURN


Keenly excited, the three boys instantly arose and advanced nearer the rim
of the Gulch. Around the bend of the next great buttress or projection
they saw two forms moving slowly which they instantly recognized as men.

"That's Zeke and Thomas Jefferson!" exclaimed Grant in a low voice.

"What has become of the other two men?" inquired George.

"You'll have to ask them,--or Zeke and T.J.; perhaps they will be able to
tell you something after they get back here."

Grant's surmise proved to be correct. Within a half-hour both Zeke and the
Indian returned to the camp.

Neither was willing to describe the details of very much of his effort to
overtake the two white men who had gone from the camp. It was manifest,
however, that both white men had disappeared and that along with them had
gone one of the packs, now doubly valuable in the eyes of the boys.

"Didn't you see the men anywhere, Zeke?" inquired Fred.

"Not a sign."

"Did you find out where they went?"

"Not exactly."

"What do you mean by that?"

"Why not seein' 'em, I'm not sure where they are nor where they went."

"But you think they went--"

"I'm not doin' very much 'thinkin'' just now," replied Zeke as he at once
began his preparations for the evening meal.

Fred however, was not to be turned aside so easily.

Approaching the place where Zeke was working he said, "Do you think those
men have tried to go to the place where Simon Moultrie staked his claim?"

"I don't know nothin' 'bout it," replied Zeke, without looking up from his
task. "My only 'pinion is that if there's any such claim and we don't get
there pretty soon there won't be much for us to look for."

"Why do you suppose John and Pete don't come back?"

"Because they have not returned."

"Don't you think that Kitoni found them?"

"I don't know much about it. I'm thinkin', however, that if they are to be
found, the Navajo will be as likely to find 'em as anybody."

"I wish I never had started on this trip!" exclaimed Fred manifestly
downcast at the outlook.

"It doesn't make any difference what you 'wish'," said Zeke gruffly. "You
have started and you're here. I don't know of any way of gettin' out of
Thorn's Gulch outside of flyin' or walkin'."

"I guess you're right," replied Fred dolefully. "Hello, what's that?" he
added abruptly. From far away had come a faint shout. Fred was positive
that he had heard a call, but Zeke, ignoring the words of the Go Ahead
boy, abruptly arose and ran to a place far to the left of the camp.

His startling action when it was seen by the Go Ahead boys at once caused
every one to follow his example.

Again the faint call was heard and this time it was answered abruptly by
Thomas Jefferson, whose voice carried far and was almost as sharp as the
report of a pistol.

"Who is it? Who is it?" demanded Fred.

The Indian made no reply, but as the distant call was heard again he
repeated his call, which this time was distinctly answered. As yet no one
was able to see the place from which the cry had come.

"Do you think anyone is in trouble?" inquired Grant anxiously of the
guide.

"No," replied Zeke.

"Do you think any one is in trouble?" inquired

"That's more than I can tell."

"Why don't you call Pete?"

"No use. Thomas Jefferson has answered the call and there isn't anything
more to be done except to wait until they get here, then we'll see whether
any one is missin' or not."

"Come on, fellows, let's go down and see!" shouted Fred to his companions,
who at once prepared to obey the suggestion.

"Here, stop that!" ordered Zeke sternly. "You're not goin' to do anything
of the kind. We've got one boy lost now and that's enough. My dad used to
tell me that one boy was a boy and two boys was half a boy. I don't know
just how much four would be," he added quizzically, as he glanced at his
young companions. "We've got troubles enough now. Just hold your horses
and wait, and we'll soon find out what we all of us want to know."

Striving to possess their souls in patience the Go Ahead Boys waited while
the minutes slowly dragged on. Again and again Fred impatiently shouted,
but for some reason there was no further answering cry. It might be that
the little party had passed under some projecting shelf of rock which cut
off all sounds from above.

Just as the sun set, however, to the great delight of the boys they
discovered three men slowly climbing the side of the gulch almost directly
below them.

Instantly the Go Ahead Boys cheered and shouted, although no replies were
made to their hails.

From what they were able to see they concluded that not one of the three
missing members of the party was disabled. They were all toiling slowly up
the sloping side, and it was soon manifest that every one was able to make
the effort for himself.

Twenty minutes later John, Pete and Kitoni gained the place where their
friends were awaiting their coming.

"You never had any one so glad to see you in all your life," shouted Fred
as he ran to John and tried to throw his arm around his neck. As Fred was
the "pigmy" of the party his efforts were ridiculous, but they
nevertheless served to remove a part of the tension under which all were
laboring.

"Are you all right, Jack?" demanded Grant. "I am now," replied the tall
Go Ahead Boy somewhat ruefully.

"What happened to you?" asked Fred.

"I got lost too. We waited for you to come back and when you didn't come
after a long time, I started out to look for you. Pete told me not to do
it, but of course I knew better than he did and nothing would do but I
must try it. It's lucky I'm here, let me tell you."

"Did you find your way back to the place where Pete left you?"

"I did not. He found me. Now then, what happened to you? We didn't know
but that you might have fallen over some rim or been bitten by a
rattlesnake or swallowed by a mountain lion. The first thing we knew was
when Kitoni came along and told us."

"Did you go back to the place where you were when I left you?"

"What do you think we'd do? Of course we went back. We didn't know but by
some kind of fool-luck you might have gone back there and if we weren't on
hand we knew you wouldn't know the place and most likely would go on past
it and then be lost on the other side. You see we were in a tight box."

"I'm sorry," said Fred ruefully. "All I can say is that from this time on
I'm going to stick so close to the crowd that nobody can lose me."

"You'd better!" said John threateningly. "I thought I was done for, when I
got lost too. I thought of Fremont and Kit Carson and the Forty-niners and
all the old chaps that came out over the Santa Fe trail. I have heard my
father tell what fights they had with the Indians and how their water and
supplies ran low and all that, but if any of them had any harder time than
I had then I'm sorry for him, that's all. There was just one thing that
made me hang to it."

"What was that?" inquired Grant.

"Why it was what my father had told me. He said that the difference
between men isn't very much,--I mean what makes one man succeed and
another man fail. He says it's just that little difference though that
counts. I remember he told me about one of his classmates in college who
was the brightest fellow in the class. He started in all right on any line
of work, but just before the job was all ready to be clinched he usually
gave up. My father says that is the way it is with men. They may be all
right up to the last point, but that last point is the one that counts.
That's the 'final punch' that counts most."

"Well, I'm glad you got out of it all right anyway," said Fred cordially.
"Did you see any bears or mountain lions or snakes."

"Not one, but I saw some lizards which scared me almost as much as if they
had been rattlers. They were ten or twelve inches long. They had a funny
way of running and every few steps would turn around and look at me."

"I'm not surprised," said Grant soberly, breaking in upon the
conversation. "I understand precisely the feeling of those lizards.
There's only one of your kind in all the world."

"You're right for once in your life," retorted John. "Now tell me," he
added, "what your plans are. What is the next thing to be done?"

"Now that little Johnnie has arrived," laughed Grant, "I think the best
thing we can do, if Zeke and Pete agree, is to stay here to-night and
start on early to-morrow morning."

"Start where?" demanded John.

"Why for Simon Moultrie's claim."

"I had almost forgotten about that," laughed John, "but I guess that's as
good a trip as we can make."

By this time Zeke had supper prepared and the boys responded to his
announcement with a zeal that caused the guide to say, "You boys must not
forget that one of our packs is gone. We may have to go short on our
rations."

The statement at once led to the story of the coming of the two white men
and their strange departure. Grant explained how Zeke and Thomas Jefferson
had each made a search, but the two men had disappeared. It was suspected,
however, that they had gone farther into Thorn's Gulch and were determined
to make their own search for the lost claim of Simon Moultrie.

"If they get there first," said Zeke dryly, "we may have our troubles
staking any claim when we come."

"Well, we shan't get there unless we start," declared Fred, whose mood now
had changed completely. "I'm for starting as early as we can get John up
to-morrow morning."

"Never you mind your Uncle John!" declared that worthy individual. "I
shall be ready before you are."

Whether or not it was the rivalry of the boys that caused them to rise
early the following morning is not known, but the sun had not yet appeared
above the eastern horizon when after a breakfast, prepared by Zeke and
Pete, the Go Ahead Boys, together with the guides and the two Navajos, who
now by common consent had become members of the party, once more began
their search for the claim which Simon Moultrie had staked.



CHAPTER XX

TWO CROW TREE


The party was compelled to move somewhat slowly as Fred and George had not
yet entirely recovered from their recent experiences. Their spirits,
however, were high, and in the bracing air of the early morning the
troubles of the preceding night were forgotten.

Zeke and Thomas Jefferson led the way while Pete and the other Navajo
formed a rear guard. The packs had been rearranged so that now the burdens
were lighter for every one. Indeed, the loss of the pack which their white
visitor had taken had made the guides somewhat anxious concerning the
outlook for supplies. A journey of one hundred miles at least would be
required to obtain fresh provisions and at least a week would be necessary
if one of the guides should be sent to obtain them. There might be
difficulty too in bringing in the supplies even if they should be
obtained.

In a measure the boys reflected the feeling of their leaders, but their
confidence in the speedy outcome of their quest was keen and as a
consequence other things were ignored or forgotten.

As the morning waned the conversation lagged somewhat and the hour was
near when they planned to stop for their noonday meal and rest. They were
now walking along the rim of the great Gulch. Their pathway had led upward
and indeed there were places immediately below them where it was more than
doubtful if they would be able to proceed.

At a sudden sharp call from Zeke the remaining members of the party
hastened forward to the place where the guide was standing.

"Look ahead of you," said Zeke. "Do you see anything?"

"I see rocks and the rim of the Gulch, plenty of sand and lots of sky,"
replied Fred glibly.

"Look along the rim," suggested Zeke, ignoring the flippant manner of the
Go Ahead Boy. "What do you see about a mile ahead of us?"

"I don't see anything different from what I said," laughed Fred.

The other boys, however, were silent for a time while they peered intently
in the direction indicated by the guide.

Suddenly Grant said in a low voice, "Zeke, do you mean that tree yonder?"

"That might be it," replied the guide.

As he spoke two large, black birds suddenly arose from a branch of the
distant tree and flying lazily disappeared beneath the rim of the Gulch.

"That's it!" exclaimed John eagerly. "That's it! That's the tree Simon
Moultrie marked out in his diary. Zeke," he added excitedly, "isn't that
the Two Crow Tree?"

"It may be," replied Zeke.

"Then let's go ahead and not stop until we get there. It isn't more than a
mile or two away, is it?"

"About that," replied Zeke.

The suggestion of the Go Ahead boy was at once adopted. The entire party
increased their speed and rapidly moved forward.

Twenty minutes had elapsed when they stood beneath the tree which had been
discovered by Zeke.

"What kind of a tree is it?" inquired Fred.

"It's a Two Crow Tree," retorted George glibly.

"I wish I was dead sure of that," spoke up Zeke.

"Don't you think it is?" demanded Grant.

"Yes, I think it is, but of course I can't be sure."

"What shall we do now?" demanded Fred.

"Cook our dinner here and decide what we'll do next."

As soon as the simple meal had been prepared the young prospectors were
summoned to the repast. Their interest was so keen, however, in the tree
under whose branches they were seated that all the Go Ahead Boys were
ready to declare that the first landmark indicated by Simon Moultrie had
been found.

"The only thing for us to do," said Zeke after he had listened to all that
the boys had to say, "is for Thomas Jefferson and myself to leave you here
while we go ahead to see if we can find anything that looks like Tom's
Thumb. If we find it then we may be pretty sure that we're on the right
track."

"How will you know?" inquired John.

"Have to use our common sense," said the guide sharply.

"Did you ever see Tom's Thumb?"

"If I did I didn't know it by that name," said Zeke. "What do you boys
think we had better look for?"

"I say a rock shaped like a man's thumb," said Fred.

"I don't," spoke up John. "What I would look for would be a place in the
mountains ahead."

"I suggest a formation in the rim of the Gulch," said George.

"What do you say?" demanded Zeke as he turned to Grant.

For some reason the guide manifested greater confidence in the judgment of
Grant than in the opinions of the other boys.

"It seems to me," said Grant slowly, "that I should be on the lookout for
all of them. I'm inclined to think, however, that if you find it, it's
likely to be something in the shape of the ground that makes one think of
a man's thumb."

"Don't none of you boys stir from this tree," ordered Zeke abruptly. "Jeff
and I will go ahead and--"

"For a time you'll be the Go Ahead Boys," laughed Fred.

"I don't care much 'bout what you call us, but if we can get there you'll
hear from us before a great while."

The interest of the Go Ahead Boys was still keen after the departure of
the guide and the Indian. Silently they watched the two men as they
steadily proceeded on their way until at last they were lost to sight by
an elevation around which they were making their way.

"Soc," asked John, "why do you suppose there were two crows in that
tree?"

"Because they had stopped for rest or observation," laughed Grant.

"That isn't what I mean," retorted John. "You know when crows alight they
usually station one of their number as a guard on a tree or fence or some
place of elevation, that is supposed to give warning. Now, I don't think I
ever saw two on observation, did you?"

"I don't know that I ever did," said Grant. "Now that you speak of it, I'm
not sure they were crows anyway."

"They were crows all right," declared Fred confidently.

"My, Pee Wee!" said John in mock admiration. "If I only knew just half as
much as you think you know I would be a wise man."

"That's all right, String," retorted Fred glibly. "Don't you remember what
I told you about that great Englishman who said that Nature never made any
man seven stories high without leaving the top loft empty?"

"I believe I have heard you refer to that fact some three thousand, eight
hundred and sixty-one times. In fact I have almost learned it by heart. I
haven't any doubt the man who said it was a little runt not much bigger
than you are."

Fred's face flushed as the Go Ahead Boys laughed and conversation ceased
for a time.

The boys had given their word not to leave the region of the big tree.
There was therefore nothing to be done except to endure the waiting until
Zeke and the Navajo returned.

Occasionally the conversation turned on the subject of the claim which
Simon Moultrie plainly had believed he had discovered.

Fred, who was the most enthusiastic of the Go Ahead Boys, was positive the
lost claim would be found and that the future wealth of the four boys was
therefore certain.

The others may have been as eager as Fred to find the place for which they
were seeking, but they were more restrained in their manner and inclined
to tease their enthusiastic comrade.

"Zeke told me," suggested Grant soberly, "that really this Simon Moultrie
was crazy."

"Is that so?" retorted Fred. "Then I suppose you're ready to say next that
everything he saw was crazy too."

"Not quite as bad as that," laughed Grant, "but I do say that it's
possible, if Simon Moultrie really was insane, he may have imagined he saw
things or found them when he didn't see them at all."

Even Fred was somewhat sobered by the declaration of his companion and
once more the party lapsed into silence.

It was now past mid-afternoon and the Go Ahead Boys were becoming
impatient over the failure of the guide and the Indian to return.

"If they haven't found any thing," said Fred irritably, "then they ought
to come back and tell us so. We don't want to stay here forever."

"Nay, verily, we do not," said George, shaking his head soberly. "I agree
with Pyg. If Zeke doesn't come back within an hour I say we start after
him."

"You want your turn in being lost in the canyon, do you?" said John
grimly. "Well, all I can say is that if you do, you can try it, but as for
little Johnnie he stays right here where he is. I've had all I want of
lost Go Ahead Boys in Thorn's Gulch or any other canyon."

Although they did not share in John's fear nevertheless the boys all
remained in their camp.

It was about four o'clock when Kitoni called their attention to two tiny
figures in the distance.

The glasses revealed that they were men and that they apparently were
coming across the Gulch. How they would be able to make their way up the
steep side no one could explain.

"That must be Zeke and Thomas Jefferson," suggested Fred at once ready to
form and express an opinion.

The Navajo, however, shook his head as he said, "It is not Zeke and it is
not Thomas Jefferson."

"Then who is it?" demanded Fred. "It seems to me we're all the while
having two or three men come into our camp when we've been told that there
wasn't a human being in these parts. They told us in Tombstone that we
wouldn't see a strange face in this part of the world."

"I see one now," declared John, turning and staring at his diminutive
friend.

The Go Ahead Boys laughed but their interest was too keen in the men who
now in the distance could be seen more distinctly.

"You don't suppose those two strange white men can be coming back here, do
you?" inquired Grant in a whisper.

"Yes, that is just who they are," replied Kitoni. "Look yonder!" he added
as he pointed in the direction in which Zeke and the Navajo had departed.

Two other men also were seen coming from that direction and no effort was
required to induce the Go Ahead Boys to believe that Zeke and his
companion were returning to the camp.



CHAPTER XXI

THE RETURN OF THE STRANGERS


The excitement among the Go Ahead Boys at once became intense. Convinced
now that the two men, whose presence whenever they had visited the camp
had created trouble, were now returning and the fact that the belligerent
Zeke and the Navajo were also likely to arrive at about the same time,
convinced the boys that some exciting scenes were to be witnessed.

As yet it was manifest that neither party of approaching men had become
aware of the coming of the others.

"There they go!" exclaimed George excitedly when Zeke and his companion
disappeared from sight. "Maybe they won't be back here until after the
other fellows have left."

"Don't you worry," spoke up Fred. "The other fellows aren't going to leave
and that's the worst of it. What shall we do?"

"We shan't do anything until we have to," said Grant. "It will be money
in our pockets to keep silent in seven languages."

"There they are now!" exclaimed Fred in a low voice as the two white men
approached the camping place.

"We're hungry," explained the man with the scar. "Give us something to
eat."

"You haven't eaten all there was in that pack already, have you?" demanded
Fred.

"What are you talking about? What pack do you mean? We haven't got any
pack," replied the visitor.

"You haven't now. What did you do with it?"

"You'll have to explain what you mean. You 're talking in riddles, as the
poet says," sneered the stranger. "All we want is something to eat and I'm
thinking you'll cook it for us pretty quick."

"I understand it's the law of the desert," spoke up Grant, "that any one
who comes into your camp has to be fed."

"Sure it is," said the man glibly.

"But there isn't anything in that law," continued Grant, "which says what
kind of stuff we've got to feed you. My advice to you is to keep right on
your way and not stop here."

"That's just what we're not going to do," laughed the other man loudly.
"We're hungry and you're going to feed us."

"Is that so?" retorted Fred. "Perhaps you'll tell us when we're going to
get the meal."

"You 're going to get it now and there isn't going to be any fooling about
it either."

"Do you want your ice cream before your dinner or after?" inquired Fred
mockingly. "How about your coffee?" he added. "Will you have a demitasse
or a bowl?"

For a moment the man stared blankly at Fred and then apparently convinced
that his demand was not to be complied with he advanced savagely upon the
Go Ahead Boy as he said, "We don't want no more fooling. You get us
something to eat."

At that moment Grant nodded positively to Fred, an action which was not
seen by their visitors. Puzzled by the direction of Grant, Fred hesitated
a moment and then without a further word began hasty preparations for a
meal.

A fire was kindled, although all the wood in the camp was required for the
purpose and in a brief time he poured into the boiling water the remaining
contents of a broken box of cereal.

It was plain that the visitors both were as hungry as they declared
themselves to be. They were watching the actions of the boys so keenly
that they were neither of them aware of the approach of Zeke or Thomas
Jefferson.

Grant, however, already had discovered the approach of the guide and the
Navajo, who now were not more than forty yards distant from the place
where the boys were standing.

"I wonder if these men are hungry too," said Grant dryly. As he spoke he
turned toward the approaching guide, an action which was immediately
followed by all the camp.

For a moment the two unwelcome visitors appeared to be about to flee from
the place. They turned toward the Gulch, but soon their courage apparently
returned and they came back to the place near the fire.

By this time Zeke and Thomas Jefferson had arrived at the camp and in his
most surly manner the guide turned to the two uninvited guests and said,
"What are you two fellows doing here?"

"We stopped to get something to eat," explained the man with the scar,
who, as usual, was the spokesman.

"Well, you aren't going to get it here," said Zeke sharply. "The thing for
you to do is to vamoose. Get out of here and get out right away! None of
that," added Zeke in a low voice as he saw one of the men reach toward his
hip pocket. "There's going to be no shootin' done here exceptin' I am th'
one to do it."

Zeke, who was a powerful man, now grasped the hands of the man with the
scar and in spite of his efforts twisted his wrists until he compelled him
to drop the weapon which he had drawn from his pocket.

"Leave it there," said Zeke quietly. "It won't do any harm. Now you two
get and don't you wait for me to say it again!"

There was something in Zeke's manner that convinced the two men that it
might be dangerous for them to delay. Glancing hastily at each other they
at once turned from the camp.

When they had gone fifty feet, the smaller man stopped and turned about so
that he once more faced the camp, as he shouted, "You think the game is in
your hands, don't you? Well, you'll have another think. All I can say to
you is that you've got a big surprise coming."

As no one responded to his threat the stranger quickly turned about and
soon overtook his companion.

Silently the Go Ahead Boys watched the departing men until they had
disappeared below the rim of the great Gulch. Then Fred said, "Zeke, what
do you suppose that fellow meant?"

"There's no tellin'," replied Zeke in his most non-committal manner.

"But what do you think?"

"I'm not thinkin' very much. I'm watchin' this stuff to see that it
doesn't burn."

"That's all right, Zeke," said Fred impatiently. "But what I want to know
is whether or not you think those two men are going to be waiting for us
when we find the claim which Simon Moultrie staked."

"I'll have to tell you later about that."

"Look there! They are coming back!" abruptly exclaimed Fred.

The Go Ahead Boy's words were true for the two men were seen clambering
upon the rim and once more approaching the camp.

"Will you give me my pistol?" demanded the man with the scar. "There's no
knowing what we may run up against and I don't like to go down into the
Gulch without anything to protect me."

"No, sir, I won't," said Zeke. "That pistol is as dangerous in your hands
as it would be in the hands of an Apache. There's just one thing we'll do
for you."

"What's that?"

"I'll take back what I said and we'll give you something to eat if you'll
agree to leave and never come back."

"In course we'll do it," laughed the man. "I didn't believe that you'd
turn us away without giving us even a spoonful of that stuff you're
cooking."

Other articles of food had been prepared by Zeke, who was desirous of
economizing in the fire. Wood was scarce and so difficult to obtain that
the guide was unwilling to waste a fire just for the sake of their
uninvited guests.

As soon as he was convinced that the men were busy in their repast Zeke
solemnly winked at Grant and in a manner which was seen by all who were in
the camp motioned for him to follow.

Grant at once obeyed the suggestion and as soon as they had withdrawn to
one side Zeke in a low voice said, "Did those two fellows come across the
Gulch?"

"Yes," replied Grant.

"Then it looks likely to me that they have been looking for that claim."

"What makes you think so?"

"They have been gone 'bout long enough to cover the distance."

"Do you think they have found it?"

"I can't say."

"But do you think they have?"

"It looks a bit like it, judging from the fact that they have come back
here so soon. Now I want you to see which way they go when they leave."

"Are you sure they're going to leave?"

"Perfectly sure," remarked Zeke as a slight grin appeared for a moment
upon his face, "and they're goin' to be in a hurry when they go, too. Have
you got plenty of soap in the camp?"

"Yes, I think so."

"Well, then I want you to take some of it and go down there at the head of
the path they follow when they leave us and grease those rocks. Don't
cover them all, but put enough on them so that the rocks will be
slippery."

"But you don't want to hurt them, do you?" protested Grant.

"Don't you worry none about hurtin'. All I'm goin' to do is to 'accelerate
their departure,' as the poet says."

"What poet says that?" inquired Grant laughingly.

"I don't just remember his name," said the guide demurely. "He said it
though and that's enough."

"I'll do what you say," said Grant, as they both turned back to rejoin
their companions.

Beckoning to Fred, after he had secured a bar of soap and taking with him
a small pan of water, Grant led the way to the spot which the guide had
indicated.

There, unseen by the others they thoroughly carried out the directions
which Zeke had given them and in a brief time turned back to the camp.

"I guess we'll be goin' on, as we agreed," said the man with the scar when
their simple repast had been eaten.

No one interposed any objections, and the two men, after Zeke had once
more refused to restore the pistol which he had taken from them, arose and
started toward the path which before they had followed when they had
returned to the camp.



CHAPTER XXII

SPLIT ROCK


"Well, boys," said Zeke when the men had departed, "my advice to you is to
watch out for those two fellows. I told 'em they would go in a hurry when
they left camp. You watch 'em! There they are now!"

As he spoke the feet of each of their recent visitors suddenly flew out
from under him and both men slid rapidly forward on their backs.

"Haw! Haw!" roared Zeke, who was seldom heard to laugh. "That's a good
'un! Come back here," he shouted, "and I'll pick you up!"

The Go Ahead Boys, however, did not wait for the men to rise. Running
swiftly to the place where they had disappeared from sight they peered
down the sloping side of the Gulch and saw both men still moving rapidly
in their descent.

Apparently neither was in any special difficulty, although both were
moving swiftly in their descent. They had gone down the shelving and soft
side of the Gulch a hundred feet or more before either of them regained
his footing. The man with the scar, who was in advance of his companion,
first attempted to rise, but his effort was intercepted by his larger
companion who slid against him with full force, again sending both men
rolling down the cliff side.

Inasmuch as there was no special danger connected with their descent, for
the ground was soft, the amusement of the Go Ahead Boys became keen. They
laughed and shouted their words of approval, and Zeke's words were the
loudest of all.

The two men, when at last they succeeded in regaining an upright position,
turned and savagely shook their fists at the laughing party on the rim of
the Gulch and then resuming their descent, continued on their way until
both disappeared from sight.

"I'm thinkin'," said Zeke as the party returned to the camp, "that those
fellows won't come back here again, at least in the daytime."

"If they come at night," suggested Fred, "it won't do us any good, I'm
afraid."

"No more it won't," acknowledged the guide, "but if my plans work out,
when they come back here we shall be gone."

"Did you find Tom's Thumb?" asked Grant

"We did," answered the guide quietly.

"You did?" exclaimed Grant. "If you had never seen it before how did you
know it was the place for which you were looking?"

"You couldn't miss it," explained Zeke. "There's a stretch of rock there
almost as big as a house that is shaped exac'ly like a man's fist, only
the thumb stands straight up."

"Did it really look like a thumb?" inquired Fred excitedly.

"It did. We both saw it about the same time and there wasn't any mistaking
it either."

"That's all right then," said Grant. "If we've found Two Crow Tree and
Tom's Thumb then it ought not to be very hard for us to find Split Rock.
We know just about where it is placed, according to the map that Simon
Moultrie drew."

"It's on the other side of the Gulch though," suggested George.

"You don't mean it?" exclaimed Fred laughingly. "What a wise chap you
are." As Fred spoke Grant drew from his pocket the paper on which he had
retraced the outlines of the map drawn by Simon Moultrie.

"In course we're not sure," said Zeke, "but we can get an idea about where
to look."

"When shall we start?" asked Grant.

"First thing in the morning" replied the guide. "We wouldn't take any
chances starting by night, though now that I've got that chap's revolver
I'm thinkin' we wouldn't have anything very much to fear from him."

"But the other man may have a pistol," suggested George.

"That's right," acknowledged Zeke. "All the more reason for waitin' until
mornin' afore we start."

"Well, there's one thing," laughed Grant, "and that is that we shan't try
to go down the Gulch the same way those two men started."

"They did sit down hard, didn't they?" chuckled Zeke.

Again the Go Ahead Boys laughed at the recollection of the ludicrous sight
presented by the two white men when they had unexpectedly started swiftly
on their descent of the Gulch.

When the following morning dawned, the guides and the two Navajos were the
first to be stirring in the camp. Before breakfast had been prepared,
however, the Go Ahead Boys were awake and preparing for their expedition.

The packs were to be restrapped and all their various belongings secured.
This task was completed by the time breakfast was ready and when the boys
seated themselves on the ground they were thoroughly ready to receive the
food which Zeke and Pete now served them.

"Zeke," inquired Grant, "do you really think those two men found the claim
which Simon Moultrie staked?"

"I don't really think so," answered the guide slowly, "but I shouldn't be
surprised if they did."

"If they have got it," said Grant, "what can we do?"

"Nothin'."

"Do you mean to say that we can't claim it?"

"That's just what I mean. You can take up some other claims right close by
if you want to, but first come first served."

"But that isn't their claim. It belonged to Simon Moultrie."

"Well, if it did," said Zeke dryly, "then I reckon they have as much right
to it as we have."

"I hadn't thought of that," said Grant blankly. "However, I haven't much
idea that old Sime ever filed his claim. If he didn't, why we stand as
good a chance as any one. I do say," he added, "that the sooner we get
started and the faster we go the less trouble we're likely to have."

"Then why don't we start right away?" demanded Fred as he leaped to his
feet.

In a brief time the party with their packs on their backs started toward
the Gulch. As has been said, the sides of the canyon at this place were
not unduly steep, and, though the descent in places was difficult, none of
the Go Ahead Boys had met with any mishap when at last they all safely
arrived in the valley below.

There they halted for a rest and before they resumed their journey Zeke
said, "It's so warm here in the middle of the day that I feel as if I was
suffocated. I guess we'd better stay here where we be 'till we've cooked
our dinner."

The descent had required so much effort on the part of every one of the Go
Ahead Boys that they were all willing to accede to the guide's suggestion.

"Zeke, how far do you think we'll have to go before we begin our search?"
inquired Fred.

"We'll have to go until we come to the claim," replied the guide dryly.

"But when shall we begin to look?"

"Keep lookin' all the while. I'm thinkin', though," Zeke added, "that we
shan't have to go more than three or four miles from the rim."

"You don't suppose he has staked his claim right on the top of the ground,
do you?" inquired George.

"What put that notion into your head?" laughed the guide.

"Why it looks so on Simon's map."

"That's all right," acknowledged Zeke. "That map doesn't show many
gulches, does it? But I'm not lookin' for a claim right on the flat part
of the rim."

"You'll tell us when to begin to look for the stakes, won't you?" asked
Fred who was deeply interested in the project which now was distinctly
before him.

"Don't you worry none about that," replied Zeke. "When you boys are ready
to start you say the word and we'll leave."

"I guess we're all ready to go now," suggested Grant.

"Off we go then," said Zeke, as he promptly arose and swung his pack to
his back.

The party by this time was moving in single file, Zeke still leading the
way and Pete following as the rear guard.

The two young Navajos had not remained in the line for any continued
length of time. They were moving back and forth, the expression of their
shining eyes betraying their keen interest. Indeed, the possibility of
discovering a mine had so aroused every member of the party that even the
guide who was leading could not entirely conceal his excitement by his
manner.

For nearly three hours the little expedition continued on its way.
Climbing proved to be more difficult than the descent had been, but at
last the party was near the rim.

There they halted once more while Zeke directed the Navajoes to move along
the side of the gulch beneath the rim while the others continued on their
way across the plateau.

"Yonder is Split Rock, I'm thinkin'," abruptly said Zeke as he stopped and
pointed to a huge rock unlike any others which the boys had seen in the
region. The stone had been cut almost as if by some huge knife. Several
inches of the space between the halves had been filled in by the dust
which the winds had deposited.

In the midst of the soil thus obtained a tree was growing which now had
shot up at least twenty feet above the top of the great rock.

"What do you suppose that is?" inquired George lightly. "Is the tree
trying to keep those rocks apart or are the rocks trying to keep the tree
in between them?"

No one replied to the query of the Go Ahead Boy, for all were keenly
aroused, now that they had found the third object which Simon Moultrie had
indicated on his map.

So eager were all the members of the party that in spite of their recent
exertions and the loads they were carrying they all began to run. In a
brief time they arrived at the destination they were seeking and as they
swung their packs from their shoulders Grant hastily drew again from his
pocket the map which he had made in his attempt to recall the one which
Simon Moultrie had drawn in the diary that the Go Ahead Boys had found.



CHAPTER XXIII

ON THE RIM


The little assembly crowded closely about Grant and looked with eager
interest at the drawings he had made.

"What does it mean?" inquired Fred, "when it says you have to go a
half-mile northeast?"

"I'm not sure that it says that," replied Grant. "There's simply a mark
here, 1/2 m. N.E."

"Well, any lubber knows that that means a half-mile northeast."

"Not being a 'lubber,'" retorted Grant, "of course I'm not sure. I'm not
very much impressed by a 'lubber's' knowledge anyway."

The Go Ahead Boys laughed at the retort, but their interest in their
immediate problem was too keen to permit other matters to enter their
thoughts.

"Now how do we know that those letters don't refer to the stake itself?"
asked George.

"A brilliant remark," said Grant scornfully. "All you have to do is to
locate the claim that Simon Moultrie staked and then prove that it is a
half-mile northeast, a quarter-mile southeast, and a quarter of a mile
north northeast from some place that you don't care anything about."

"That's not it," said Zeke, shaking his head as he spoke. "It's the claim
itself. My opinion is that you go a half-mile northeast from Split Rock.
Then turn and go one-quarter of a mile southeast and then a quarter of a
mile north northeast."

Both the Navajos were present, standing on the border of the assembly and
their shining eyes betrayed their keen interest in the discussion.

"If I recollect aright," said John, "in that diary of Simon Moultrie's he
wrote that he was in the middle of Thorn's Gulch when he struck the vein
just right."

"That's so," spoke up Grant quickly, "I do remember that."

"Yea!" continued John, elated by the response which had greeted his words,
"and that isn't all. He says he followed it up and found the place he was
looking for. Didn't he say too that he had already had an assay made and
that it was great?"

"Wonderful, String!" said Fred. "You have proved yourself to be a great
man. That's exactly what was in the diary as I recall it. The only thing
then for us to do is to follow along the middle of Thorn's Gulch until we
strike the vein."

"Huh!" retorted Zeke, "you had better make arrangements to have breakfast
with the man in the moon than try any such plan as that."

"What shall we do then?" demanded John.

"We've got to decide first of all," explained Zeke, "about this claim that
old Sime staked."

"That's what we're trying to do," interrupted Fred glibly.

"Be patient with the child, Zeke," said Grant dryly. "He rides on a
half-fare ticket yet."

"Quit your fooling," spoke up John. "We want to find out about this."

"Well," said Zeke, "I've got a compass here, of course, but I haven't any
chain. How are we going to tell when we have covered the distance!"

"The only way," responded Grant, "will be for us to pace the distance
until we come to what we think is about the spot which Simon found."

"That will take a month of Sundays," spoke up George.

"It will take some time," acknowledged Grant, "but I don't know any other
way. Do you, Zeke?" he inquired, turning to the guide.

"Where are you going to start with your measurements?" demanded Zeke.

"Why, at Split Rock, of course," said Grant promptly.

"From the middle of the Rock, or the edge? From the near side or the far
side? From the top of it or--"

"I say," broke in Fred, "that we start from the edge of the Rock where it
touches the sand. Then we can follow the compass and we know just how many
paces there will be in a half-mile."

"It will depend on who does the pacing, I guess," said John drolly. "My
legs are longer than Fred's and I guess my steps wouldn't be more than
half as many as his."

"The best thing for us to do," said Grant confidently, "is to measure off
as nearly as we can do it just what a yard is. Then John, who can cover
any distance from two inches to two yards, can try to take steps just the
required length."

"We can try that," assented Zeke dubiously, "though I'm inclined to think
the better plan will be for us to get a stick that will measure a yard as
nearly as we can make it. Then we had better measure it off. We can follow
the compass all the way and needn't go very far aside even if we don't
come to the exact spot."

"It's a long job," remarked Fred dolefully. "You see we've got to turn.
We've got to make the half-mile, then stop and change our directions and
go a quarter-mile southeast and then stop again and go a quarter of a mile
north northeast. I wonder why old Sime didn't make it a straight line
anyway."

"We may find out," said Grant, "that he had to go this way. What shall we
do, Zeke?" he added, turning to the guide.

"Whichever you say," replied Zeke.

"Then, I say we try first to let John pace a half-mile. We'll all go along
with him and when he comes to the end of his eight hundred and eighty
yards why all there is for us to do is to stop and change the direction
according to the compass and start out again."

"We haven't anything to measure with," said John dolefully.

"We can strike it pretty close," said Zeke.

"I'll tell you what we can do, boys," said Fred. "The first joint in my
thumb is just three-quarters of an inch. We can measure it with that."

Securing a piece of string Grant carefully measured according to the rule
suggested by the diminutive Go Ahead Boy and soon he held up his string
saying, as he did so, "If Fred is right that is exactly a yard."

"Let me see it," said Zeke, taking the string. Making his own measurements
he soon declared that Grant was almost correct in his statement. "We can't
get within a half-inch of it anyway," he said.

"A half-inch on a yard would mean four hundred and forty-four inches for a
half-mile," said Grant. "Now four hundred and forty inches is thirty-six
and three-quarter feet. If we get as far as that out of our way it will
take us from now until Christmas to find old Simon Moultrie's lost mine."

"It doesn't make any difference," said John, "that's the best we can do
and that's all we've got to work on."

The elongated Go Ahead Boy already had measured twenty yards of the ground
and after every yard had been indicated he was walking over the distance
trying to see how closely he could adjust his footsteps to the
measurements which had been made.

"We'll try it anyway," said Grant. "There's nothing else to be done, but
it won't be safe to start until to-morrow morning, will it, Zeke?"

"That's what it won't," said the guide quietly. "We'll stay here at Split
Rock until sunrise to-morrow morning."

In accordance with the directions of the guide preparations were at once
made for passing the night at the place where they had halted. Thoroughly
tired by their exertions the Go Ahead Boys were ready for bed soon after
their supper had been prepared and eaten. Indeed, it was not long after
dark before silence rested over the entire camp and apparently every
member of the party was sleeping soundly.

Some time later Fred suddenly sat erect and looked keenly all about him.
He was unable to decide what had awakened him so abruptly for the silence
which rested over the place was unbroken.

Uneasy over his sudden awakening, Fred, after delaying a few minutes,
silently arose and doing his utmost not to disturb his other comrades
moved cautiously toward the rim of the Gulch.

The stars in the sky above him were shining so brightly and appeared to be
so near that to the boy it seemed almost possible that they might be
plucked from their setting. Not a cloud was visible in the sky. The
silence that rested over the entire region was so tense that Fred's nerves
were tingling as he stopped for a moment to look about him and listen.
What a marvelous experience it was. Alone with a few of his friends on the
limitless plains, thoughts of the busy scenes in the great city in which
he had his home were almost impossible under such conditions. The whole
world seemed to be barren, while over all were the shining stars whose
lights were visible thousands of miles away.

Suddenly Fred's thoughts were diverted from the sublimity of the sight
which had claimed his attention. At that moment he saw the form of some
one peering just above the rim of the great Gulch.

Startled by the sight Fred dropped upon the ground and excitedly waited
for events to develop.

The man before him turned for a moment and apparently was speaking to some
one who was hidden from Fred's sight. The boy was confident that he
overheard several words although he was not able to distinguish anything
that was said.

Fred saw the man whose approach he had discovered now turn again and
silently approach the camp.

Greatly surprised Fred speedily was aware that the approaching man was
Thomas Jefferson. It was not possible to deny that he had left the camp
and in all probability had been talking to some one in the Gulch. Who or
what the man was, it was impossible for Fred to conjecture. Troubled and
perplexed by the strange occurrence he started swiftly toward the camp. As
he drew near, abruptly the Indian arose and advanced.

"Is that you, Thomas Jefferson?" whispered Fred.

"What you do?" replied the Indian. The Navajo spoke in low tones, but his
excitement was revealed in the trembling of his voice.

"Me? I haven't done anything. What have you been doing?"

"What you see?" inquired the Indian.

Ignoring the question, Fred said, "Who was talking to you?"

"Where? What you see? What you hear?" demanded the Navajo now plainly
aroused by the question of the Go Ahead Boy.

"I have told you," replied Fred. "What were you doing out there with that
fellow below the rim of the canyon?"

Before Thomas Jefferson could reply a thought flashed into Fred's mind
which nearly staggered him. Was it possible that the Navajo had been
meeting the two white men who had made so much trouble? And if he had met
them what had he told them? Was he revealing what every one in the camp
now was expected to keep secret? And why were the two white men still
following the party if they had already discovered the location of Simon
Moultrie's claim?

The questions were so troublesome that Fred decided that it was necessary
for him to consult Zeke at once and tell him about the exciting experience
through which he had just passed.



CHAPTER XXIV

A SMALL CLOUD


Fred was relieved when he discovered that Thomas Jefferson was eager to go
back to the camp and avoid all further questioning.

The actions of the Navajo, however, increased Fred's feeling of anxiety.
He watched the Indian until he was convinced that he was trying to avoid
any further interview. Then the Go Ahead Boy moved silently around the
camp to the place where the guide was sleeping.

Fred's hand placed lightly upon the face of Zeke at once aroused the guide
who quickly sat erect. Fred meanwhile had dropped on the ground by his
side and as he did so he said, "Don't move, Zeke. Don't get up. I've got
something I want to tell you."

"What is it, lad?" whispered Zeke, at once complying with the suggestion.

Thus bidden Fred related his discovery of Thomas Jefferson returning from
the rim of the Gulch. He also gave his reasons for believing that the
Navajo had been having an interview with some one on the sloping side of
the Gulch. He expressed fully his suspicions that the unseen man was one
of the two unwelcome white men who had visited the camp several times.

In low voices Fred and the guide conversed for several minutes. When the
conversation at last was ended and all of Zeke's questions had been
answered the guide said to Fred, "Now see that you keep this to yourself.
I'm hopin' that we shan't have any serious trouble, but I don't like the
way it looks. Don't tell any of your pals about it."

Fred promised to carry out the suggestion although he had expected to tell
John at least of the discovery he had made.

It was long before the excited boy was able to sleep, but when at last his
eyelids closed they did not open until the party was already astir.

When breakfast had been eaten Zeke approached the place where Fred was
working on his pack and said in a low voice, "I want you to come with me."

"Where?" inquired Fred.

The guide did not reply to the query, but without any delay Fred arose and
followed him as he led the way to a place below the rim. There to his
surprise Fred saw Thomas Jefferson, evidently awaiting their coming.

As soon as the guide and the Go Ahead boy arrived, Zeke said to the
Indian, "Now then, Thomas Jefferson, I want you to tell us what you were
doing last night. I don't want any nonsense about it either. You answer my
questions straight or there'll be trouble for both of you Navajoes."

Fred was certain there was a sharp gleam in the eyes of the Indian but he
did not respond to the suggestion of the guide. Quietly seating himself he
faced them both and evidently was waiting for Zeke to begin his cross
examination.

"Thomas Jefferson," said Zeke sternly, "weren't you sent east to be
educated in the schools?"

"Yes," replied the Indian simply.

"And weren't all your expenses paid?"

"Yes."

"Didn't they treat you white?"

"They thought they did."

"Don't you _know_ they did? They paid all your traveling expenses. They
paid for your board and your clothes. There wasn't anything that cost you
a cent. What do you mean then by saying 'they thought they did'?"

"It was hard for me when I come back to the Navajo people. They laugh at
my clothes. They think what I have learned is no good and pretty soon I
am ready to give up all I have learned so that the Navajo shan't laugh at
me some more."

"That isn't it, Thomas Jefferson," said Zeke tartly. "You're expected to
come back to your tribe and show them how to live. That's the way a good
many do. I never saw an Indian who had been educated and then came back to
his tribe and give up because he was afraid some silly girl was going to
laugh at him for his clothes or his new education, that, if he let go, he
did not swing twice as far in the other direction. There's no Indian like
a bad Indian. And no bad Indian is as bad as the one I'm telling you
about."

The Navajo did not respond though his manner betrayed that his anger was
steadily rising.

"Now, then, I want to know, Thomas Jefferson, what you were doing with
those men down on the side of the Gulch last night," continued Zeke.

"I did not see men."

"Well, _man_, then. Have it your own way. Perhaps there was only one of
them. Was it that fellow with the scar on his face?"

"I did not say."

"Well, that's what you must do. You've got to tell us who he was."

"If I do not tell what will you do?"

"Drive you out of camp the same as I would drive a rat out of his hole."

The Indian laughed but made no other response.

"Now, then, Thomas Jefferson," said Zeke, angered by the apparent
indifference of the young Indian, "did you see that white man or didn't
you?"

"I did not see him."

"Are you talking straight?"

"I am."

"It is 'good talk' you're giving me, is it?"

"I did not see the man."

"Well, then, who was there?"

"I did not see any one."

"But Fred here says you were talking to somebody."

"Let him say."

"All right, T.J.," said Zeke abruptly. "We'll stop here for a while. I'm
not done with you yet. Now, what I want you to do is to take Kitoni with
you and go along the side of the Gulch keeping your eyes open for any sign
of a vein. If you find it you let me know right away."

"What you do?" inquired the Navajo.

"We shall keep up above the rim and try to find out what is there. Now
mark you, T.J., don't try any of your tricks on us. If you do, the first
thing you know you'll be thrown out and there'll be no cure for it."

The guide now rejoined the other members of the party and plans were soon
made for the day.

It finally was decided that while the two Indians were making their way
along the side of the Gulch, all the others should be divided into two
parties. Each of these two parties was to spread out in such a manner that
at least ten feet intervened between any two men.

It was decided also that the Indians should precede the others by at least
an hour.

Meanwhile it was agreed that the center of the rock should be made the
starting place for the new expedition. Slow progress was certain, but all
were more eager now to avoid mistakes than they were to make haste.

John, who declared he had now acquired an accurate stride which covered
exactly a yard, led the way. Directly behind him was Zeke, while the boys
were scattered on either side. Pete again formed the rear guard, although
no danger now was feared unless the actions of Thomas Jefferson implied
that they were being watched by others. Zeke had declared positively to
Fred that he thought the Indian was not telling him the truth. "There's
all the more reason," he explained, "why we must keep our eyes open. I'm
sure that the Navajo is being paid for his work and I shouldn't be
surprised if that man with the scar was the treasurer of the fund."

Even Fred now ignored any peril that might arise from the supposed
interview of Thomas Jefferson with other enemies, for the excitement of
the last part of their investigations was strong upon him.

Slowly the little band advanced over the broken surface. There were
gullies so deep that at first it seemed impossible to gain the opposite
side. Most of these, however, were narrow and consequently the
difficulties of John in measuring the distance were not greatly increased.

Grant had explained that if they did start from the wrong place they would
steadily swing more and more away from the spot they were seeking.
However, there was nothing to be done except to try and the eagerness of
the boys clearly showed how willing they were to make the attempt.

As the distance covered by John steadily increased, the boys became more
silent though they were steadily watching for some object that might
indicate the end of the first part of their search. No object, however,
was seen and when at last John halted, declaring that he had covered
exactly the distance required, he was standing on an elevation so slight
that no one believed it was a landmark.

"Now, from here," said Grant, "we turn and go southeast a quarter of a
mile."

"From where?" demanded Zeke.

"From where String is standing."

"Might as well start from there as anywhere," growled Zeke. "It's a kind
of fool's journey anyway."

The sun was now pouring its beams directly upon the heads of the young
explorers and there was no relief to be had. Across the desert stretch not
a place of refuge was within sight.

"There's nothing else to be done," said Grant resolutely. "Jack will have
to keep on and follow the compass just as closely as he did on the way
here."

The declaration of the Go Ahead Boy was so evidently true that without a
protest from any one the entire party resumed its march.

They were now at least a half-mile from the rim of the great Gulch. In
changing the direction in which they were moving they still were following
the line made by the huge chasm.

They had gone only half the distance of the second stage of their journey,
when they all halted abruptly as Zeke said in a low voice, pointing as he
spoke toward the canyon, "Is that smoke off there?"

For a moment all in the party were silent, but Pete and Grant were strong
in their opinion that a thin line of smoke was visible just above the
border of Thorn's Gulch.

"Huh," muttered Zeke, "that's more or less what I expected."

"What was it you were expecting?" demanded Fred.

"Just what I see."

"Yes, but what do you see?"

"The same as you do," said the guide sharply.

"I don't see anything but a little smoke. It may not be anything but a
cloud," said Fred.

"Well, you see the same thing that I do and you're as free as I am to
explain what it means. I'm very free to say that I don't like it."

"Here I am," exclaimed John, who had closely been following the compass.

"Where is that?" laughed George.

"Right here where I am is the end of that quarter-mile that we were to
follow to the southeast."

"Stay where you are then," said Grant quickly. "We've got to measure from
that spot to find anything like the stake we're looking for. We're now
going a quarter-mile north northeast from here."

Again at the second halt John was standing on another small elevation,
although it too was so slight that it would not have called attention to
itself from any chance passer-by.

"We're on our last lap, now," said Fred gleefully. "In a few minutes we'll
know whether we've struck oil or gold. Come on, fellows!" he shouted in
his excitement.

The little band at once renewed their journey and their excitement
steadily increased as John's pace led them, as they believed, in the
direction which had been indicated in the diary of Simon Moultrie.



CHAPTER XXV

CIRCLES


The determination of the Go Ahead Boys now was more manifest than at any
time since they had left the Grand Canyon. The different ways in, which
this feeling expressed itself was marked, for Fred's face was flushed and
John's was eager as they pressed steadily forward. George was sometimes
hopeful and sometimes in despair, while Grant was the only one whose
countenance was unmoved.

Conversation did not thrive now for several reasons. The face of every one
was turned toward the distance and as they pressed forward John's pace
unconsciously became swifter. Indeed, the tall Go Ahead Boy was so
interested now in arriving at the end of his journey that unconsciously he
was giving less heed to the paces he was making.

Abruptly John stopped, declaring that he had come to the end. He had
carefully followed the direction of the compass and had covered the last
quarter-mile.

Blankly the Go Ahead Boys looked all about them. They now found themselves
on the side of a low hill which itself seemed to be part of a mountain. At
their left were ledges and great rocks that had been worn away by storms
or the action of the air and sun. In whichever direction they looked,
however, they were unable to discover anything that seemed to indicate a
claim.

"I tell you we've come to the wrong place," said George, easily the most
discouraged of the band. "There isn't anything here and I knew there
wasn't all the while."

"Why did you come then?" demanded John irritably.

"I didn't want to break up the party," responded George.

"What shall we do now?" asked Fred, whose distress of mind was manifest in
the tones of his voice.

"There's nothing to do but quit," said George. "It's a wise man that knows
when he has had enough and I've had all I want."

"Q.E.D.," said Grant dryly.

"What do you mean by that?" demanded George.

"You know what it stands for," answered Grant. "All I meant was that you
proved what you started out to prove."

"What is that?" demanded George.

"Why that you're a wise man and know when to quit."

"But honestly, Soc, isn't that the way you feel about it, too?" demanded
Fred disconsolately.

"'Honestly,' Fred," retorted Grant mockingly, "it's _not_ the way I feel
about it. I'm not going to give up. Did you ever hear the story of Bruce
and the spider?"

"Only a few times," laughed John. "I think you have told us about how he
was hiding in a cave and how he watched a spider that kept on trying to
swing himself across a corner. I believe that he failed a good many times
but finally succeeded."

"Good for you, String," laughed Grant. "I wasn't quite sure that you got
the point."

"I get the point, all right," retorted John, "when you're able to make it
plain. All the same," he added, "what are we going to do next?"

"I'm not so sure," said Grant slowly. "Probably we'll have to stay here a
few weeks and keep on trying to find the right spot."

"What are you talking about?" demanded Fred blankly. "I wouldn't stay here
a few weeks for all the money there is in every mine in Arizona!"

"This is the time and this is the place when the majority have got to
rule," said Grant quietly.

"If the majority want to stay here and look a little longer for Simon
Moultrie's claim then I guess the others will have to stay too. There's
going to be no journeying across the desert or back up the gulch and the
canyon by any party of one or two. We've had enough Go Ahead Boys get
lost."

"Don't be so proud," retorted Fred. "_You_ haven't been lost, but it
wasn't any fault of yours. It was simply your good luck."

"I'm not denying that," said Grant. "I am quite sure I should have been
lost if I had been where you were. All I'm saying is that we aren't going
to lose any more."

"Well, what _are_ we going to do?" asked George.

"We've got to decide what we'll do first," said Grant. "What do you
think?" he added, turning to the guide as he spoke.

Zeke had been silent throughout the conversation. It was plain that he was
perplexed and perhaps downcast at the outcome of their first attempt.
However, the expression of his face was unchanged when he said, "I've
decided one thing and that is that you boys are going to stay right here
and watch a little while."

"'Watch'?" repeated Grant. "What do you mean? What are we going to watch?"

"You're going to be on the lookout," was all that Zeke was willing to
explain. "There's going to be some things goin' on around here worth
seein', in my opinion," he added, "but I don't know just what and I'm not
sure just where. I do know though the first thing that's going to be
done."

"What's that?" inquired Grant.

"I'm going to get under the shadow of that big rock yonder and then I'm
going to cook some dinner."

"But it isn't more than eleven o'clock," protested Fred.

"I don't care what time it is. I'm going to cook the dinner if it's
seventeen o'clock to-morrow mornin'."

"And after dinner what?" asked Grant.

"What I told you," said Zeke. "I'm going to leave you boys here on the
lookout while I go down over the rim."

"What are you going for?" asked Fred.

"Two things," replied Zeke. "I'm going to look first for those two pesky
Navajos and then I'm going to have an eye on that ledge that Simon
Moultrie referred to in his diary."

"If you have one eye in one direction and the other in another, Zeke,"
laughed Fred, "you'll be getting cross-eyed the first thing you know."

Fred's laugh relieved the tension somewhat and when dinner had been
prepared by the guides the spirits of all had risen once more.

"I'm suggesting," said Grant before the boys arose from their seats, "that
we form five big circles here, about twenty-five feet apart. We'll have a
common center and then from there we will start out, every one covering
the part that has been given him. In this way we'll be able to cover a
good deal of this ground and find out whether there's anything here to
show that Simon Moultrie ever struck a claim."

"Better not try that until I come back," suggested Zeke. "I will be back
along about supper time and I may have somethin' to report when I come. If
I do, it may change all your plans."

"What do you expect to report, Zeke?" asked George.

"Just exactly what I find," answered the guide solemnly, whereat the Go
Ahead Boys all laughed loudly.

"Now, you mind what I say," said Zeke a few minutes later. "Don't none of
you go more'n a hundred yards from this spot. It may be I shall need the
help of every one of you and need it in a hurry too. If I do, I want you
on hand. Besides, there isn't any use in any more of you wanderin' off
into the gullies trying to lose yourselves."

Zeke arose and after he had carefully looked to his person to assure
himself that his revolver was in his hip pocket and that the pole he had
taken would stand a severe test, quickly started toward the rim. Not once
did he glance behind him and in a brief time he stepped lightly over the
rim of the Gulch and disappeared from the sight of the Go Ahead Boys.

For a few minutes after the departure of the guide the boys remained in
the camp, obedient to the suggestion of Zeke, and perhaps all alike
fearful of being lost if they ventured far from the locality. Their
restlessness, however, returned in a brief time and Grant said to his
companions, "Boys, why don't we try out my plan?"

"What plan is that?" asked Fred.

"Why, that we use this place where we have camped as a center and that
every one of us, as I told you, a few feet from the others try to make a
big circle about it."

"I think that's a good scheme," said John excitedly. "It will give us
something to do and it will help us in finding what we're after."

"That's right," joined in George.

As a consequence the boys speedily began their new task.

Fred was stationed about twenty-five feet from the camp, George was
fifteen feet beyond him, John was stationed an equal distance beyond
George, while Grant, who was about sixty feet from the camp, made the
outer circle.

At a given signal the boys began their search. They did their utmost to
retain the same relative positions, although such action required greater
exertion on the part of Grant than of the other Go Ahead Boys.

When at last the circles had been completed the Go Ahead Boys decided to
repeat the experiment, following a similar plan and at equal distances
beyond the circles already made.

"We must look out," suggested Fred as the boys lined up the second time,
"not to go too far away. You know Zeke told us not to leave this place."

"I guess we shan't have any trouble," declared John. "We shan't be beyond
hailing distance from one another anyway."

The second attempt when it was completed had met with no better success
than had crowned their former efforts. No one had found a trace or
indication of any spot that had been staked out as a claim.

The third time the strange wheels revolved about the camping place,
although by this time the distance that had to be covered was greatly
increased.

When the boys at last assembled once more and the reports were made they
were all plainly disheartened. Perhaps the fact that they were tired also
had much to do with their feeling. Even Fred, however, did not suggest
that they should abandon their main purpose, for the excitement of the
search in spite of his disappointment was still strong upon him.

"I'm not just sure," said George when the boys stretched themselves upon
the ground, "that I'm looking for the right thing anyway."

"What do you expect?" demanded Fred.

"I'm looking for Simon Moultrie's claim, that's all," remarked George
simply.

"Yes, and probably you expected to stumble over a mine with the men all at
work. You expected to find a shaft and mules and men on every side. How
about it, Pop?"

"I'm not quite as bad as that," replied George, joining in the laugh that
greeted Fred's words, "but I'll have to own up I don't know exactly what I
was looking for."

"You're hopeless," laughed his friend, but for some reason silence soon
rested over the little group.

The afternoon was waning and the night would soon be at hand. Already
shadows were creeping over the gulches and canyons and the reflections
were weird and in places fantastic. In the fading light the vivid colors
of the sides of the canyons became softer. The coming of the night seemed
to cast its spell over all.

The Go Ahead Boys had become quiet. Even the stories of Pete, who a few
minutes before had joined the band, seemed to be as unreal as the empty
shells. Few questions were asked and it was not plain that all the boys
were listening.

Suddenly John arose and exclaimed, "There comes Zeke! I wonder what he has
to report."

In a moment John's companions had joined him and all four were advancing
to meet the guide who was returning from the rim of the Gulch.



CHAPTER XXVI

CONCLUSION


"Where have you been, Zeke?" called John.

"Down, 'n the Gulch," replied the guide gruffly.

"What did you find? Did you see any one?"

"Nothing to speak of," retorted Zeke, who plainly was not disposed to
recount the story of his recent adventures.

Without halting, the guide said, "The Navajos will be coming soon."

"What do you mean?" demanded John excitedly.

"Just what I say," said Zeke.

"Do you mean the whole Navajo tribe or just the two that we've seen?"

"You certainly be the most innocent chap I've ever seen," remarked Zeke
irritably, as for a moment he halted and looked sternly at the two boys.
"Of course I mean Thomas Jefferson and Kitoni."

"What are they coming up for?" demanded Fred.

"Children should be seen and not heard," retorted Zeke.

John laughed, but the face of his diminutive friend flushed angrily though
he did not reply to the statement of the leader.

Plainly Zeke was not inclined to talk. In silence he led the way back to
the camp without referring again to his visit or explaining what his
future plans were to be.

Neither would he talk after he had arrived, except to remark that it would
be time enough to talk when the Navajos came.

Two hours later Thomas Jefferson arrived in camp. The time had been
hanging heavily upon the hands of the Go Ahead Boys and the coming of the
Indian provided a sharp relief.

"Where's Kitoni?" demanded George as Thomas Jefferson alone entered the
camp.

"I cannot say."

"Are you expecting him pretty soon?"

"I expect him to be here when he shall come."

"That's quite a remarkable statement, isn't it?" said John lightly, as the
Indian turned away and approached the place where Zeke was lying on his
back.

An extensive conversation between the Navajo and the guide followed but
the Go Ahead Boys were unable to hear anything that was said.

At last, however, Zeke arose and approaching the place where the Go Ahead
Boys were standing, he said, "I hear you boys didn't do what I told you?"

"What was that?" inquired Grant.

"I told you not to leave this camp."

"We didn't go very far away," laughed Grant. "Every one of us got busy and
we made some circles around the place here where we're stopping. We tried
it three times, but we didn't find any signs of the claim which Simon
Moultrie had staked."

"What did you expect to find?" demanded Zeke, a broad grin appearing on
his face for a moment.

"The claim," reported Grant sharply.

"Did you think there was a big sign up there stating that this was old
Simon Moultrie's property and warning everybody to keep off?"

Without waiting for a reply Zeke turned away, nor were the Go Ahead Boys
able to induce him to renew his conversation. No reference was made to the
plans for the following day and all four boys were greatly mystified when
at last they retired for the night.

The failure of the guide to be interested in the attempts the boys had
made to discover the claim for which they were searching was somewhat
mortifying. Indeed, Fred was inclined to break out in open rebellion. It
was Grant, however, who soothed his feelings and prevailed upon his friend
not to speak again to Zeke concerning the efforts they had made.

Early the following morning the missing Navajo and the white man whose
face was scarred, who had been an occasional unwelcome visitor in the
camp, together approached the place where the boys were awaiting their
coming.

"Do you see who that is?" demanded Fred in a low voice.

"Not being aged and infirm and my memory not having failed me as yet,"
said Grant solemnly, "I do recollect our distinguished visitor."

No more was said although with deep interest the boys watched the approach
of the two men, wondering all the time what the coming of the white man
implied.

Their curiosity was still further increased when Zeke without waiting for
the men to enter the camp met them thirty feet away and at once entered
into a low and earnest conversation.

"What's the meaning of all this?" demanded Fred again. "I don't see what
that fellow is doing back here and I don't understand why Zeke appears to
be so friendly with him. You don't suppose," he added cautiously, "that
the guide has decided to go in with the other fellows, do you?"

"Don't you remember what Zeke told you a good many times?" spoke up Grant
sharply. "He said that children should be seen and not heard."

Fred's face was expressive of his anger, but he wisely did not respond to
the suggestion of his friend.

It was not long before Zeke and the two newcomers entered the camp where
breakfast was hastily prepared for the Indian and his companion.

"Zeke," spoke up John, "we don't understand what's going on. What does all
this mean?"

"What does all what mean?" retorted Zeke blankly.

"You know just as well as I do. What is this man doing here in our camp
again?"

"You'll have to ask him."

"Well, I don't want to ask him. I don't want anything to do with him. He
stole Simon Moultrie's diary, he smashed one of our boats, he took one of
our packs and no one knows how much more damage he has done. I don't think
he ought to be here."

"You might tell him so," suggested Zeke, smiling slightly as he spoke.

"I'm not going to tell him," retorted John. "I'm telling you and you are
responsible for this party."

"That's right, so I be," spoke up Zeke as if it was the first time he had
heard the statement. "There isn't much use," he continued, "in my looking
after you when I find that you don't pay any 'tention to what I tell you.
I left word for not one o' you boys to leave the camp while I was gone and
when I come back I find that all four of you have been up to all sorts of
tricks."

"What are those men waiting for?" demanded Fred, glancing as he spoke at
the Navajo and the white man, who were frequently looking toward the rim
of the Gulch.

"I think you'll have to ask them," said Zeke as he at once withdrew and
joined the men whose actions had caused Fred to ask his question.

Fred's confusion returned when he found that Zeke and the white man
apparently were on the best of terms. His anger increased as he became
convinced that he was the topic of their conversation, for each frequently
glanced in his direction and both laughed as if the reference to the Go
Ahead Boy was highly amusing.

Fred's conviction that they were awaiting the coming of some one was
strengthened when he joined his friends.

"I'm telling you, fellows, there's something strange about all this," he
said positively. "Nobody knows what those men have in mind. I'm getting
worried."

"What are you afraid of, Pee Wee?" laughed George, who thus far apparently
was unmoved by the anxiety of his friend.

"I'm afraid something will happen that won't do us any good," said Fred.

The fears of the Go Ahead Boy were not expressed, however, for at that
moment above the rim of the Gulch appeared the tall form of the white man
who had been the companion of the man with the scar.

Blankly the Go Ahead Boys stared at this latest addition to their party,
but not one of them was able to offer any explanation of his coming. It
was plain, however, that the arrival of this man had been expected, for
both the Indians and the man with the scar at once advanced to meet him
and the long conversation that followed indicated that his approach was
not a surprise.

The confusion in the minds of the Go Ahead Boys increased when a few
minutes later Zeke conducted the two white visitors to the place where the
boys were standing. As he drew near he doffed his hat and said, "Boys, I
want to make you acquainted with Mr. Moultrie. This is the man," he
added, as he slapped the tall stranger on his shoulder.

The boys somehow murmured their appreciation of the introduction though
the blank manner in which they stared at the visitor indicated that they
were more mystified than before.

A moment later Zeke beckoned to the man with the scar to approach. As he
came near the place, again Zeke doffed his hat and making a low bow said
to the boys, "I want to make you 'quainted with Mr. Pratt. We have been
waiting for Moultrie to come," he explained, "and I'm thinking we're about
ready to start."

"Where?" demanded Grant.

"You come along and you'll see," was all the explanation Zeke gave.

Dubious as the Go Ahead Boys were they nevertheless decided to follow the
suggestion of their guide and in a brief time the entire party, including
the two Navajos, set forth from the camp.

The tall stranger was the leader now and silently and swiftly he led the
way. Apparently he was fully aware of the destination he was seeking and
the most direct method of approaching it. Across the little plateau over
which they were moving he led his followers until at last they came to a
deep gulch or gully that had been worn into the side of the mountain.
Doubtless the torrents which had swept down the hill-side had worn their
way into the mountain-side, leaving this deep gulch as the evidence of
their power.

The excitement of the boys increased when Mr. Moultrie entered the gully.
It was manifest that he was no stranger here and as he swiftly advanced,
his followers found difficulty in keeping up with the pace that he set.

For fifteen minutes not a word was spoken although the excitement
increased with every passing minute. Indeed, it was manifest that the
interest of Zeke and the Navajoes was steadily increasing as they moved
farther into the gulch.

Fifteen minutes later the man who had been introduced to the boys as
Moultrie abruptly halted and said, "It is right here."

"What is here?" demanded Grant, who was now the spokesman for the Go Ahead
Boys.

"Simon Moultrie's claim," said the man simply.

"What!" demanded Grant. "Where is it? I don't see it. What have you to do
with it?"

"It's right before you," said the tall man, smiling as he spoke, "and the
reason why I am here is because that claim belongs to me. I am James
Moultrie, Simon's younger brother. After he found this place and filed his
claim he wrote me what he had done and said that he had made his will,
leaving the whole thing to me."

"And who is this man?" demanded Grant, turning to Moultrie's companion.

"His name is Pratt. Didn't Zeke introduce him?"

"Yes," answered Grant. "I know who he is but what is he?"

"He's a prospector who has been working around here not far from my
brother more or less for five years. My brother was almost insane and
Pratt knew it. He tried to keep a little watch over him, but Sime wouldn't
have him around. He was about here, however, when my brother died and he
helped me locate the claim."

"Were you the man who took our diary?" spoke up John.

"'Your' diary is good," laughed Mr. Moultrie. "Do you think it really was
yours?"

"We found it," said John doggedly.

"By the same rule," said Mr. Moultrie, "the man that found this boy when
he was lost in the gulch ought to own him. We took the diary all right,
but it belonged to us anyway. We were only appropriating what was ours."

"What about that boat that was stove in?"

"That was an accident. We took one of the boats fully expecting to give it
back to you within a day or two. We struck a rock and that's all there is
to the story."

"But what about that pack?"

"Our supplies were all gone so we took the pack," laughed the man.

"Did Zeke know about it?" suddenly inquired Fred.

"I reckon he wasn't altogether lacking in information," laughed Moultrie.

"Then, why did you bring us all here?" demanded Fred, turning angrily upon
the guide.

"I thought you wanted to come here," responded Zeke solemnly.

"We wanted to find the claim," retorted Fred.

"Well, you have found it, haven't you?" inquired Zeke as most of the party
laughed loudly.

"We have found what you _say_ is the claim," acknowledged Fred, "but--"

"We have found what _is_ the claim," said Mr. Moultrie quietly. "Now, I
appreciate the zeal of the Go Ahead Boys and I don't intend to forget it.
This claim may be worth a hundred million dollars and it may not be worth
one red cent. I'm going to give one hundred shares, if a company is
organized and we put out the stock, to every one of the Go Ahead Boys."

"How much does Zeke get?" laughed Grant.

"He doesn't get anything," said Mr. Moultrie, "unless we develop a mine
here and that means a lot of work and a long wait. Then, if the prospect
looks good, we may organize a development company, and if the development
shows up well, then we'll organize a mining company. But no one knows now
whether he's rich man, poor man, beggar man or thief until all that has
been done."


THE END THE GO AHEAD BOYS

BY ROSS KAY.

    _I leave this rule for other's when I'm dead:
    Be always sure you're right--THEN GO AHEAD.
                         --Davy Crockett's Motto_.

[Illustration]

The love of adventure is inborn in all normal boys. Action is almost a
supreme demand in all the stories they read with most pleasure. Here is
presented a series of rattling good adventure stories which every live "go
ahead" boy will read with unflagging interest. There is action, dash and
snap in every tale yet the tone is healthful and there is an underlying
vein of resourcefulness and strength that is worth while.

       *       *       *       *       *

1 THE GO AHEAD BOYS ON SMUGGLERS' ISLAND.
2 THE GO AHEAD BOYS AND THE TREASURE CAVE.
3 THE GO AHEAD BOYS AND THE MYSTERIOUS OLD HOUSE.
4 THE GO AHEAD BOYS IN THE ISLAND CAMP.
5 THE GO AHEAD BOYS AND THE RACING MOTOR BOAT.
6 THE GO AHEAD BOYS AND SIMON'S MINE.


(Other volumes in preparation)

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Publishers   28 West 23rd Street   New York



THRILLING STORIES OF

THE BIG EUROPEAN WAR

       *       *       *       *       *

THE BIG WAR SERIES

(Trade Mark Registered)

BY ROSS KAY

[Illustration]

The big European War, one of the greatest epoch-making events in the
world's history, has been chosen by one of the best-known writers of
juvenile fiction as the scene of a series of thrilling stories of these
stirring times.

Not a description of battles, nor the study of strategical campaigns, but
good whole-some fiction with a little of the historical interwoven. These
are authentic, instructive and exciting narratives on the greatest war in
history.

THE SEARCH FOR THE SPY.
THE AIR SCOUT.
DODGING THE NORTH SEA MINES.
WITH JOFFRE ON THE BATTLE LINES.
FIGHTING IN FRANCE.
BATTLING ON THE SOMME.
WITH PERSHING AT THE FRONT.
SMASHING THE HINDENBURG LINE.


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THE BOY SCOUT LIFE SERIES

Published with the approval of The Boy Scouts of America

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration]

In the boys' world of story books, none better than those about boy scouts
arrest and grip attention. In a most alluring way, the stories in the BOY
SCOUT LIFE SERIES tell of the glorious good times and wonderful adventures
of boy scouts.

All the books were written by authors possessed of an intimate knowledge
of this greatest of all movements organized for the welfare of boys, and
are published with the approval of the National Headquarters of the Boy
Scouts of America.

The Chief Scout Librarian, Mr. F.K. Mathiews, writes concerning them: "It
is a bully bunch of books. I hope you will sell 100,000 copies of each
one, for these stories are the sort that help instead of hurt our
movement"

THE BOY SCOUT FIRE FIGHTERS--_CRUMP_

THE BOY SCOUTS OF THE LIGHTHOUSE TROOP--_McLANE_

THE BOY SCOUT TRAIL BLAZERS--_CHELEY_

THE BOY SCOUT TREASURE HUNTERS--_LERRIGO_

BOY SCOUTS AFLOAT--_WALDEN_

BOY SCOUTS COURAGEOUS--_MATHIEWS_


(Other volumes in preparation.)

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by the publishers.

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THE SOMEWHERE SERIES

BY MARTHA TRENT

Cloth, 12mo. Illustrated With picture inlay and wrapper

Per volume, 60 cents postpaid

[Illustration]

Around a central figure, "half girl, half boy, and the better half of
each," the author has written a fascinating story laying the plot first in
America and subsequently, in the other stories, in other countries. The
author's intimate knowledge and deep insight into the life and
surroundings of the young heroines in the various countries add distinct
educational value to the pronounced charm and quaintness of the stories. A
peculiarly timely series of books for young readers who have been
following the progress of the war.

1 HELEN CAREY:
  SOMEWHERE IN AMERICA

2 MARIEKEN DE BRUIN:
  SOMEWHERE IN BELGIUM

3 ALICE BLYTHE:
  SOMEWHERE IN ENGLAND

4 VALERIE DUVAL:
  SOMEWHERE IN FRANCE

5 LUCIA RUDINI:
  SOMEWHERE IN ITALY

6 PHOEBE MARSHALL:
  SOMEWHERE IN CANADA


For sale at all bookstores or sent (postage prepaid) on receipt of price
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"As Popular as the Game Itself"

THE BIG LEAGUE SERIES

(_Trade Mark Registered_)

BY BURT L. STANDISH.

[Illustration]


Endorsed by such stars of baseballdom as Christy Mathewson, Ty Cobb and
Walter Johnson.

An American boy with plenty of grit--baseball at its finest--and the girl
in the case--these are the elements which compose the most successful of
juvenile fiction. You don't have to be a "fan" to enjoy these books; all
you need to be is really human and alive with plenty of red blood in your
veins.

The author managed a "Bush League" team a number of years ago and is
thoroughly familiar with the actions of baseball players on and off the
field. Every American, young or old who has enjoyed the thrills and
excitement of our national game, is sure to read with delight these
splendid stories of baseball and romance.

1 LEFTY O' THE BUSH.

2 LEFTY O' THE BIG LEAGUE.

3 LEFTY O' THE BLUE STOCKINGS.

4 LEFTY O' THE TRAINING CAMP.

5 BRICK KING, BACKSTOP.

6 THE MAKING OF A BIG LEAGUER.

7 COURTNEY OF THE CENTER GARDEN.

8 COVERING THE LOOK-IN CORNER.

9 LEFTY LOCKE, PITCHER-MANAGER.

10 GUARDING THE KEYSTONE SACK.


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BOOKS FOR BOYS

From eight to twelve years old

THE BOBBY BLAKE SERIES

BY FRANK A. WARNER

True stories of life at a modern American boarding school. Bobby attends
this institution of learning with his particular chum and the boys have no
end of good times. The tales of outdoor life, especially the exciting
times they have when engaged in sports against rival schools, are written
in a manner so true, so realistic, that the reader, too, is bound to share
with these boys their thrills and pleasures.

1 BOBBY BLAKE AT ROCKLEDGE SCHOOL,
  Or, Winning the Medal of Honor.

2 BOBBY BLAKE AT BASS COVE,
  Or, The Hunt for the Motor Boat Gem.

3 BOBBY BLAKE ON A CRUISE,
  Or, The Castaways of Volcano Island.

4 BOBBY BLAKE AND HIS SCHOOL CHUMS,
  Or, The Rivals at Rockledge.

5 BOBBY BLAKE AT SNOWTOP CAMP,
  Or, Winter Holidays in the Big Woods.

6 BOBBY BLAKE ON THE SCHOOL NINE,
  Or, The Champions of the Monatook Lake League.

7 BOBBY BLAKE ON A RANCH,
  Or, The Secret of the Mountain Cave.


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STORIES FOR CHILDREN

(From four to nine years old)

THE KNEETIME ANIMAL STORIES

BY RICHARD BARNUM

[Illustration]

In all nursery literature animals have played a conspicuous part; and the
reason is obvious for nothing entertains a child more than the antics of
an animal. These stories abound in amusing incidents such as children
adore and the characters are so full of life, so appealing to a child's
imagination, that none will be satisfied until they have met all of their
favorites--Squinty, Slicko, Mappo, Tum Tum, etc.

1 SQUINTY, THE COMICAL PIG.

2 SLICKO, THE JUMPING SQUIRREL.

3 MAPPO, THE MERRY MONKEY.

4 TUM TUM, THE JOLLY ELEPHANT.

5 DON, A RUNAWAY DOG.

6 DIDO, THE DANCING BEAR.

7 BLACKIE, A LOST CAT.

8 FLOP EAR, THE FUNNY RABBIT.

9 TINKLE, THE TRICK PONY.

10 LIGHTFOOT, THE LEAPING GOAT.

11 CHUNKY, THE HAPPY HIPPO.

12 SHARP EYES, THE SILVER FOX.

13 NERO, THE CIRCUS LION.

14 TAMBA, THE TAME TIGER.


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BY DOROTHY WHITEHILL

[Illustration] Polly Pendleton is a resourceful, wide-awake American girl
who goes to a boarding school on the Hudson River some miles above New
York. By her pluck and resourcefulness, she soon makes a place for herself
and this she holds right through the course. The account of boarding
school life is faithful and pleasing and will attract every girl in her
teens.

1 POLLY'S FIRST YEAR AT BOARDING SCHOOL

2 POLLY'S SUMMER VACATION

3 POLLY'S SENIOR YEAR AT BOARDING SCHOOL

4 POLLY SEES THE WORLD AT WAR



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ENTERTAINING STORIES FOR CHILDREN

From 4 to 9 years old

THE ANIMAL SERIES

BY FRANCES TREGO MONTGOMERY

[Illustration]

The best way to entertain children is to tell them a story. The better the
story, the more lasting the impression on the young mind. These tales,
told in the simple and charming style for which this authoress is noted,
will serve a two-fold purpose--entertainment for the children and an
acquaintance with many well-known facts concerning animal life.

The ever increasing sale of these books attests to their growing
popularity. Has your boy or girl read them? If not, now is the time to get
a copy.

1 COWS AND CALVES

2 HORSES AND COLTS

3 PIGS AND PIGGIES

4 CHICKENS AND CHICKS

5 DOGS AND PUPPIES

6 CATS AND KITTIES



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BY CLARA INGRAM JUDSON

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Mary Jane is the typical American little girl who bubbles over with fun
and the good things in life. We meet her here on a visit to her
grandfather's farm where she becomes acquainted with farm life and farm
animals and thoroughly enjoys the experience. We next see her going to
kindergarten and then on a visit to Florida.

Exquisitely and charmingly written, these are four books which every
little girl from five to nine years old will want to read.

1 MARY JANE--HER BOOK

2 MARY JANE--HER VISIT

3 MARY JANE'S KINDERGARTEN

4 MARY JANE DOWN SOUTH


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